I’m not entirely sure the purpose of nostalgia. Is it a longing for something we no longer have? A happy remembrance of what brought us to where we are today? An opportunity to laugh about your mistakes or relish in the distant praise of your few successes?
I’ve been caught up in sweet dreams of nostalgia lately. Laughter over some of my inexplicable past and a yearning for the rush that followed some of my small victories; I mull it over with an understanding that I did not have before and a clarity that comes with age.
What is the purpose of nostalgia?
Perhaps these feelings of nostalgia simply precede the next great thing.
When you get married, do you know what they say? They say things like, “Everyone is in such a rush to get married lately! I’m taking my time and enjoying my independence.”
“I couldn’t imagine tying myself down at this point in my life.”
“We are so happy as boyfriend and girlfriend; why would we want to ruin that?”
They don’t say it to you as a warning, rather they say it at you while thinking to themselves aloud. They are lost in their own thoughts… In their personal journey of love, of relationships, of independence. Yet though they do not speak to but only at you, you hear them. And it stings to know that your friendships will inevitably change in this next chapter of life.
Suddenly, you are lost in the sweet nostalgia of an unbridled life. An ability to leave. To be tough. To stand up to anyone… And then you take the leap.
There are choices each day that define you. A series of crossroads. And if you choose wisely, you will find more happiness in the fork you choose than you will leave behind. And as you continue to move forward with your choices, you will begin to cherish nostalgia. It is no longer a longing for the past. It is a keen awareness and acceptance of the choices that have brought you forward.
The next time people speak aloud and tell you that a spouse is a chain and a house is an anchor or a child is the end of fun as you know it, you must keep silent. Do not retaliate or defend your choice. Do not hesitate or hurt. Remind yourself that you are happier on this turn because of the direction you chose… That this is your path and that the people speaking to themselves aloud have made the equally important choice for themselves to be single or unwed, un-mortgaged, or without attempt for children. And you must honor their choices as well.
We need to start a revolution. To fight human nature, which tells us that the grass is greener on the other side. We must not pull others toward feelings of regret to protect us from those feelings ourselves. And we must also watch ourselves when we are tempted to react to some news of a friend’s new direction following a fork in the road.
Do not compare their choices to those of your own. Just listen, love, and accept.
We need more advocates for love in this world. For inclusiveness. For appreciation of these crossroads and the opportunities these choices make. For those that follow different paths and for those who go in an expected direction.
You are not better because you are different. You are not better because you are the same. You are you and your “you” is beautiful. I am me and that is beautiful too.