"Nostalgia she's a shit disease, it's a shame to reminisce."- Guster
Oh nostalgia, I love to hate you. You overwhelm my heart and soul with feelings that are almost indescribable. You can bring up sadness, joy, loneliness and elation in one quick breath. You're sneaky too. Most times you come out of nowhere.
Last weekend, I sat on a bench in MV that I had sat on with many of my high school friends in the 90s. Had I thought about that bench through the years? No. Did I think that bench would make me want to burst into tears? No. But damn you nostalgia, you got me.
This past week I took my daughter to meet her second grade teacher. She's in the same room that two of her brothers were in. It completely caught me off guard- and then the nostalgia came in. I could see my sons sitting in that classroom, I could see their retired teacher sitting in that same rocking chair. My heart was filled with what felt like overwhelm and anxiety, but was really just a sense of longing. My guys are growing up, my daughter is growing up. My 3-year-old neighbors are off to college and boarding schools. Things are changing fast. Time is fluid and it moves at lightning speed.
Maybe this is why old people sit around talking about what things were like back in their day... it's hard to face parts of our lives that have slipped through our fingers. In a weird way, it's comforting to hold onto the past, and sometimes to live in it. The more you realize time is bigger than you, the more you wish it would slow the fuck down. But... you can't catch time. You can't negotiate with it. And you sure as hell can't slow it down.
Have you noticed nostalgia gets worse with transitions? Like the end of summer, the end of a vacation, the end of an era? It gets worse because all at once, it hits us- that part of our life is done. For good. Sometimes, this nostalgia comes up when something isn't even over yet. That one gets me the most. Like you're walking down Main St in Disney World holding your sweaty 7-year-old's hand thinking that this is the last time you'll ever walk down this street holding this hand. Next time she won't want to hold your hand. Next time she won't even reach for you at all. Um ok, relax and get a hold of yourself. At that moment, she was holding my hand.
And this brings me to my action steps for nostalgia. Are you still reading? I'll bullet it in case I lost you at hello.
When nostalgia takes over:
* Breathe. Always breathe. Bring yourself back into your body. Try a thymus thump or place your hand on your heart.
* Feel what you feel. ALL emotions are ok. Don't push them down or away. That's how they get trapped folks.
* Allow the memory to take over, just for a bit. What does it feel like to be there again? What have you learned since then?
* And now, bring yourself back into the present. Your life is here and now. LIVE IT.
* Look forward to today. Not next summer or next vacation. Just today.
So, is nostalgia a shit disease? It could be. It could take you to a point where you are living in the past and not growing. It can also be a time to tap in the joy, to remember the life that has brought you to where you are today. It's your choice, and today you can choose to live here, now.