The Drug of Nostalgia
or, Living on Memory Lane
Way back Wednesday.
In the olden days.
Back in the day.
Days gone by.
I'm sure there are more, but these are the expressions I could remember that highlight the human propensity to believe the past is more desirable than the present, or even the future.
Some people wear such sepia-tinted lenses that they genuinely believe this to be true. From glorifying long-dead ancestors to longing for the reinstatement of practices of the past, a lot of people are stuck in an era most of them didn't even witness, which is probably why it's easy to think said eras were so great.
From retro/vintage fashion to "classic" literature and old school music, this longing for days gone by when things seemed less complicated and more... authentic is pervasive in modern culture. But like every addiction, Nostalgia exacts a price for the comfort it gives.
Honestly? I get it. The modern world can be frightening and it's understandable to want to take refuge from the relentless march of time in memories of the past.
However, therein lies the problem. Memories are by their very nature unchangeable. They are moments fixed in the amber of our minds, indelible marks on our collective human psyche. Alas, we are not Time Lords for whom Time is like a plate of spaghetti, where you can't tell where one event ends and the other begins. For humans, time is an arrow, flying straight and true.
As such, letting yourself become a Nostalgia junkie is like encasing yourself in amber. The world marches on and you become a fossil; with outdated and incompatible thoughts and perspectives. Some people see this as some sort of... purity or integrity but in this context, that is not a virtue.
Would it be virtuous to resurrect the first human? After all, that's as pure as pure gets, genetically. However, if they have the concept of cursing, they'd probably curse you. Why? Because they are incompatible with this day and age and incompatibility to that degree would most likely be torturous. Hell, they might not even be able to breathe the air the Earth currently holds.
That's an extreme example but think about it as it applies to ideas. Resurrecting ideas whose time has passed does them no favours. We should learn from the past, yes, but the past has no space to exist in the present or future. That would create a paradox and paradoxes are doomed to collapse.
This is one of the reasons I do not judge older people by contemporary standards. Most of them will fall short, through no fault of theirs, simply because they are products of the past. A time will come when the younger generations will be in their shoes and then perhaps we will finally understand that we should extend grace, not judgement, to the outdated.
Winston Churchill said "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it" and I ask how you expect to learn from something you refuse to acknowledge is history, but instead cling to as the present? This is partly why a lot of people are stuck in cycles, repeating dysfunctionality ad infinitum.
That said, I sincerely hope I've been able to convince you and not confuse you that Memory Lane is somewhere you visit, not somewhere you live. Until next time, Peace and Amber Glasses.