This post is slightly overdue (in terms of posting, and from what I’ve observed, there is always that slightly over emotional post in all blogs – yes even those who discuss the mechanisms of the Krebs Cycle – I am over-exaggerating, I haven’t found a blog discussing the Krebs Cycle emotionally #bazinga).
This is probably my first ( and definitely not last) slightly emotional post, this time about: Nostalgia (as you could have guessed by now).
For some reason, I am now wondering: Is nostalgia an emotion, or just a state of mind? (#LifesImportantQuestions #not?)
I should mention, the weather in Cape Town on Sunday made the feeling of nostalgia so much more real, in fact, just by peeking out side the window you might have been overcome by nostalgia…(They will probably shoot Adele’s next music video in this weather).
Anyway, last week was quite, well, peculiar. I somehow felt like I had traveled in time, being surrounded and overcome with nostalgic memories the whole week. A whole week of nostalgia, that is almost 168 hours of Nostalgia… #hyperbole. Do you know what you can do with 168 hours? (I have no idea what you can do, but I could probably watch the Harry Potter movie series 10 times, and go for a run). Circling back… This state of nostalgia made me think of the phenomenon of nostalgia, and it obviously made me over-analyze, which lead to my next thought;
Is it just me, or do we “over-romanticize” the idea of nostalgia.
You know, when you remember things better than they were (like the #mostamaaaaazzzzingSmoothieEver, was it really that amazing?) = over-romanticize (nothing to do with romance #englishYouSillyLanguage) . No, I am not being a cynic, I probably sound cynical right now, but hold on for a moment (I am a glass half full type of person). We remember moments, places, people, but how accurately? Are we not remembering these moments better than they were? (It is an honest question, I really do not know). When you Google “nostalgia” you find quite a few of these:
This makes nostalgia seem quite, well, somber. In addition to the above, did you know that Nostalgia was once consider as psycho-pathological disordered, did you just read that: a disorder! “The disease was considered to be similar to paranoia, except the sufferer was manic with longing, not perceived persecution, and similar to melancholy, except specific to an object or place”. Johannes Hofer created the term “nostalgia” in his medical dissertation (1688), from two Greek words:
Nostos (returning home) + algos (pain) = Nostalgia
-It was inspired by the German word: Heimweh (For those who speak Afrikaans = heimwee)…-
Looking at Mr Hofer… I understand why he thought it must be a disorder. We remember the happy moments, beautiful places, extraordinary people, but does it inherently bring fulfillment and joy? Reading all of this makes me think that perhaps nostalgia might not lead to happiness, it might in fact hold us captive in the happiness we’ve experienced in the past, and prevent us from experiencing happiness in the the present. But is that really all that there is to nostalgia… just over romanticizing of mediocre memories…?
Ok, ok, done with all the pseudo-Jungian-psych analysis of doom and. Let’s circle back to where this whole journey on nostalgia started…
As mentioned, if I had to summarize last week, it could be summarised as: Nostalgia, almost every moment was filled with nostalgia – except for my flat tyre, when the Laundromat lost my washing and when I threw my cup of coffee over myself just as I arrived at the office and a few other curious instances (I will probably be nostalgic about them in the future). Through the whole of last week, I thought of:
• the red dust on the farms I visited and how it reminded of the time I lived in countryside in the Free State •
• the songs on my iPod and remembering the first time I listened to them (or how I would listen to them on repeat, much to the dismay of my roommates in boarding school #SorryNashTinxCorenKarlien •
• the weather and how it felt like Sundays, at home, with winter approaching •
• conversations with people you never thought you’ll have •
• birthdays’ of those who we once held dear •
• beauty and the beast and how I was taken back to my teens, being Belle #cliche •
• lastly, the way the sun rays fell into my room the same way it did when I moved into my first apartment •
As I am typing this out, it does not seem to justify the nostalgia that I was overcome with, yet, I was still nostalgic beyond what can be assumed reasonable levels of nostalgia can be. But also, it brings me happiness, not sadness, genuine happiness… so what was Mr Hofer on about? I am not sure…
This past week, I was fondly reminded of some significant (when I got the news that I will be moving to Cape Town) and insignificant (drinking tea and reading a magazine from the 1960s) moments in my life.
This past week was exceptionally strange, almost as if I was surviving in the present, but living in the past, being constantly reminded of memories, places and people. They were not just memories, not just things I fondly remembered, but might I dare say, things I slightly longed for, having that absolute feeling of nostalgia.
This past week I felt like I was paging though some of my old favourite books, remembering what happened, and how some of the memories made me feel, how I seemed to:
- Laugh (when Harry told Ron and Hermione of his and Cho’s first kiss), or
- Cry (reading about Roald Dahl’s fight in World War II),
- Be furious (When Hatsumomo and Pumpkin plotted against Sayuri’s plans to meet the Chairman), or
- Be excited with anxiousness (when Dr Langdon got called to the Louvre) and
- Maybe even a little sad (when Gatsby realized that he lost Daisy Buchanan)
This past week three friends celebrated their birthdays. Somehow, life happened, and we drifted apart. I remember how we studied, watch avocados ripen (#truestory), figured out Instagram, and worked until early mornings getting projects done. I absolutely love them, and probably always will (yes love, that strange best-friend-we-have-been-through-so-much-craziness-I-can-never-not-love-you love), and with all of this, I was overcome by this wave of Nostalgia, again.
This past week was my High School reunion, which might have aided in the Nostalgia. (I did not attend, I somehow believe that memories are best preserved, and not relived… #ButThatIsAStoryForAnotherDay).
This past week my iPod decided to play every emotion-triggering- and past-favourite song (some slightly embarrassing). As you probably know, music is usually the main trigger of nostalgia, which seems quite obvious, yet, when I attended a work function where they played all my Dad’s favourite artists (OMD, ELO, Elvis, BeeGees, Beatles, Queen, Rolling stones) I was taken on this trips down memory lane. I was reminded of all the artist’s who’s songs he would play incredibly loud on Saturday mornings, it was quite annoying back then, but I must admit, a part of me would love to have that music wake me up on a Saturday morning, like it did back in school.
This past week I was reminded that nostalgia does not have a time frame, I was reminded of quite a few things that happened a few weeks, months and years ago and I remember them dearly. Nostalgia is not always something that happened 10 or 20 years ago, it can be that memory of how you went to buy flowers only a few months ago in the Adderley flower market, or that significant conversation at the dinner table.
This past week I realized that nostalgia is quite personal (apart for the obvious: “it is your memories, of-course it is personal”, I knew it, just kind of re-realised it), it is personal in the sense that you remember who you were back then, at that point time. How you looked at life, what you thought about, what you did, how you looked, what your interests were, and how you did not know that this is where life will bring you.
The past week I realized again that everything is different now, not just me, we are all different now. Nostalgia is merely a reflection of a character that once existed, yes, that person is still a part of us, but there is a whole new side to us, a new level of depth and understanding, new experiences, all of which has lead our character to develop, and become who we are now.
When we are overcome by nostalgia, we perhaps just long for the simplicity of the time in the memories. I think we romanticize nostalgia in the sense that we do not remember everything, sometimes only the happiness we experienced. Nevertheless, remembering the happiness does not invalidate the memory, it just shows us the beauty of being human, we try to see and remember the beauty, not just other “irrelevancies”.
Hence, nostalgia is not a “bad thing” (No Dr. Johannes Hofer, I will not be receiving any treatment for my nostalgia), I think nostalgia is vital in keeping our sanity, especially in a life that can get pretty hectic sometimes.
Note to self: Remember to live in the present (and don’t take yourself too seriously).
|My Desk, Cape Town|
|Radio Active – Imagine Dragons|