There is a particular kind of mistake that almost all of us make at some point.
I made the mistake when I went back to visit my old high school after I had been away at college.
Maybe you visited your childhood home.
Or you visited an old workplace.
And part of you expects the people or the places to not have changed. We somehow think that the people or the places will be like Cheers, where everyone still knows your name.
We are driven by nostalgia back to these important places. We get homesick for these old parts of our lives. But then when we go back, we find that the world changed. It moved on without us. I found out that I wasn’t supposed to care about my high school after I graduated. Maybe you realized that the old house where you grew up is no longer your home. Maybe we even feel nostalgic about relationships, or phases in our relationships. We wish for the days when we were newlyweds. Or maybe when we are older, we yearn for the days when the kids were still at home. We think about the holiday gatherings from our childhoods and feel a tinge of disappointment year after year because the holidays don’t measure up anymore.
Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. It sells billions of dollars of products to millennials. It sells movie sequels and remakes. It sells merchandise based on brands from the 80s.
The thing about nostalgia is that it is also kind of a liar. Nostalgia needs those rose-colored glasses that humans love to wear so much. It needs us to remember things more fondly than we felt at the time, to filter out all of the bad and just remember the good.
Humans are remarkable at filtering their pasts, aren’t they? But we have to remember that when we feel nostalgic, we aren’t yearning for something that can be acquired anymore. It’s just a memory.
We have to remember that we can spend our lives trying to recapture the good old days, and we will be unsuccessful. Or we can spend our days realizing that one day, we will be nostalgic for this time.
We are in the good old days today.
We will be nostalgic for this place we call home and the people in our lives now.
So we can waste our days yearning to go back to some mythical home. Or we can realize the gift that we have and be nostalgic for today.