Whenever we find ourselves in the throes of a new struggle or challenge, our first inclination is often to yearn for the “good old days.” The times when money wasn’t so tight. The days when we knew exactly who we were and what we wanted. The period our lives when “lazy Sundays” and “free time” were not, as they are today, some rare and mystical unicorns we’d only ever hear about in fantasy novels and folklore. It’s true, the world is more uncertain now than it ever has been. Which means with every new challenge we face, we’re entering into truly uncharted territory.
It is also true that Nostalgia is an unreliable narrator.
That’s because Nostalgia relies upon the power of hindsight to numb our deepest aches by actually reconstructing our memories. Like a gifted surgeon, it slices through our past perceptions until it reaches the root of all our pain: the unrelenting fear of the unknown. Once all fear is removed, along with any traces of whatever damage that fear might have done to us, Nostalgia stitches us up, smooths over our incision points and transforms our past pains from deep scars into funny stories we’re now able to tell around the dinner table.
In other words, Nostalgia (while perhaps an entertaining guest at a cocktail party) ultimately cannot be trusted– not with today’s fears and worries.
Because Nostalgia’s job is to actually make us forget that the fears and worries we face today are nothing new. To perpetuate the lie that this time is different. This time we’re really in trouble. We’ve never been here before. When the truth is— life has always been uncertain. No territory is uncharted. And not only have we been here before, but we’ll be here again.
So today, friends, let’s commit ourselves to the practice of “remembering.” Let’s plant ourselves in the uncomfortable truth that we can be okay in the midst of uncertainty because we have been okay in the midst of uncertainty. Let’s take our nostalgia with a grain of salt. Let’s stop longing for the “good old days” that seem so carefree and effortless, only in retrospect. And let’s remember to remember that our ultimate survival is not predicated on the certainty of this moment at all—but rather, our acceptance of it, just as it is.