Nowadays I write blog posts to avoid reading for class. I am a master at creative procrastination. While searching important things like communication and sociological concepts I decided to see if there is a word for thinking about your past because I do that a lot. I kept getting rumination, which is a psychological condition where a person finds herself constantly replaying events and thinking of how they could be better or why they went wrong instead of focusing on a solution. That wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. I typed in “nostalgia” and went on a 30 minute cram that resulted in me concluding that nostalgia is an inherent part of my personality.
Simply put, nostalgia is longing for the past, particularly happy, personal moments. It can be characterized as a negative melancholy emotion, the kind treated clinically as severe homesickness or just romantic sentimental thoughts about the “good old days.” Nostalgia can be triggered by smells, sounds, people, music, or sensations.
I experience nostalgia quite often, usually in a pleasant sense, but sometimes in a rather subdued sense too. I may hear a song and think about playing with my dolls as a young girl. The taste of strawberry milk reminds me of my childhood. Certain smells make me think of my grandmother’s house, and so on and so on. I think about how much I enjoyed that moment and how much I wish I could experience it all over again, just one more time. Yet I know that those moments were meant for those days. More special interactions are ahead of me. I am in a wonderful present that desperately craves my attention.
Nostalgia is kind of like driving alone down a road headed somewhere you’ve been long ago and always wanted to return to. Your anticipation builds and your heart rate rises as you drive. Mile past mile you’re getting closer and closer to that place in your head, until you realize you have driven way too far and far too long. You stop at a gas station to see if you got lost but the attendant informs you the place no longer exists. You go home, a rock in your stomach, and you stop thinking about all the things you were going to do, because now you can’t.
That may sound more depressing than it actually is, but it’s the best illustration I can think of. When you remember things with such longing you are traveling in time, but you’re traveling somewhere you can’t go. That can be comforting or sad, depending on your mood. I enjoy reminiscing about the good times in my life because it validates how blessed I am. It also makes me aware of how fast things end, which is why it’s so important to appreciate the people and things you have right now.