I find nostalgia to be a very interesting emotion. Suffice it to say that I have a love-hate relationship with the emotion. Lately, some friends from past lives have expressed interest in getting back together for a trip down memory lane. All of this has got me thinking about the good old days. Were the good old days really that good?
Don’t get me wrong, I know that there were plenty of moments that were (and still are) absolutely worth cherishing and perhaps that’s what makes nostalgia such an addictive emotion. My problem with nostalgia is that it leaves us (or maybe just me) with a tendency to pretend as though things were always good and always will be. Nostalgia dumbs down our darkest moments. The moments that tested how far we could bend without breaking; the ones that taught us those hard, character building lessons; the moments when we feel disoriented and directionless all to get trivialized for the temporary respite of little victories that followed – even if they were in fact, pyrrhic in nature.
But by that same token, it lightly suggests that those moments in which we wandered and truly were lost were not as bad as we had always imagined. It says that the less traveled path on the roads split by yellow wood was actually the better choice. It compels us to keep going because we have met with success in the past and whatever falls and failures we experienced along the way usually faded in time.
So, were the good old days all that good? Probably not, but they probably weren’t all that bad either. There were plenty of times that I laughed, cried, felt immense pride, and felt tremendously humiliated. I can’t count the number of times I wish I had done things differently, or the ones in which I would’ve done them exactly the same way. I can only imagine that for all their good and all their bad, there will be plenty more of those moments to come and perhaps to remember wistfully in years to come.