Nostalgia is a Lie
or, How I Never Wax Nostalgic About Anything
Now that I’m “officially” middle-aged (LOL), I’ve noticed other people talking about their lives so far, even waxing nostalgic about their youth. They compare today to back then and inevitably find today lacking, or they accept that while things are radically different today, they still remember fondly the things they used to do. I know some who have written unabashed mini-biographies about themselves, including all the stuff (good and bad) that they’ve experienced.
The thing about nostalgia or biographies is … I will never do this. I will not write about the events of my life in chronological order to revisit how I got to where I am now. I already know how I got here, and the events of my life are relatively ordinary and so would not make riveting reading. Even the high-water moments: all the disasters, triumphs, debacles and achievements will not be written about. I’m not saying this to sound modest; I just know they’re not that fascinating. A lot of people like to think that they are special, that they have a truly unique outlook or way of expressing themselves. Truth be told, they’re not. Very few people in this world are truly unique, the rest of us are pretty mediocre.
I know very well I’m not an Einstein or a Mozart. I may have done a few things others can’t or won’t do, but I realized most of my existence was ordinary when, as a pre-pubescent girl, I once got a diary for a present. I don’t even remember who gave it to me, but somebody knew that I enjoyed writing and thought a diary would make a good gift. It’s a logical assumption, and I made a valiant attempt at documenting my life, but I stopped after only a few weeks because I went back and re-read what I’d written. Oh, the humanity! The mundane day-to-day existence I was scribbling about was so incredibly boring! Nobody wants to read that.
I will also not think back to my childhood and think that things were better then, because I know better: they weren’t. I recall hating being a child, and couldn’t wait to grow up. You can’t do this, you can’t go there, and you’ll understand when you’re older. Most importantly, I felt stifled; you could only do a certain amount as a child. You were too young to watch an R-rated movie. You weren’t big enough to ride the roller coaster. You couldn’t walk around certain areas alone. You couldn’t go into a bar & grill just for a Coke and a slice of pizza – they had the best pizza in town, but it was a bar so – no go. Everything I wanted to do required me to be older; becoming a legal adult opened up so many options! I literally dreamed of what I would do once I was 18 and could move out. How could anyone feel nostalgic about the time when they bemoaned their very existence
People realize how so much has changed over the years, and think they really had it better when they were younger. They then think this is being “nostalgic” about their youth. It’s a lie, an illusion: it wasn’t any better. The difference is perspective. As a child you have no responsibilities, you don’t have to worry about the mortgage, or what exactly is wrong with your messed up left knee and will you ever be able to navigate walking over a patch of ice without falling down again. I’d rather reminisce about good times I have had, than wish for things to be as they were. Things really are better now.