Blast from the past

Why is the past concomitant with such fondness, regard and romance?

Ever wondered what makes old things so wonderful and sweet?  Recently, someone in my extended family celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. The theme for the party was ‘retro.’ Everyone was excited as they pondered over dresses, hairstyles, music and effects of the days gone by. It seemed the entire family came together discussing their experience of an analogous past replete with nostalgic moments.

It is said “the good old days” are a myth. No one ever considered they were good at the time. Every age has consisted of times and tribulations that seemed insufferable to the people who lived through them. Despite this, Owens Lee Pomeroy says, “Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, but the past perfect!” I am intrigued. 

Why is the past concomitant with such fondness, regard and romance?
One can only speculate. We are told to revel in our present and we often obsess about our future, however, the present is unfolding as we speak and the future looms unknown. To add to this, our ‘now’ is often riddled with complexities and stresses that we fathom and work out as we move along. With every passing day the change in trends, norms, demographics, environments and psyche point towards a future that we cannot even conceive today.

In this mayhem and constant endeavour to make sense of our today and tom-orrow, one absolute certainty is yesterday. There are no upheavals there; it’s already been and done. God may possibly work upon and change our present or future but even God can’t change our past. That is something we will always have, safe in our memory and experiences that have shaped us and made us who we are today.

The hectic pace of our lives ensures that we do not stay in the past for long. We have obligations to fulfil, dreams that need to be actualised and deadlines to meet. Despite this, our past will still find us when we least expect it to. It beats inside us like a second heart.

A long forgotten lullaby will bring nostalgic tears to our eyes. A particular aroma in an unknown terrain might transport us back home. A forgotten flower/ note in a book could bring a poignant smile to our face. Our hearts will beat a little faster as we tread the familiar road to our childhood home. A photo album time and again becomes our solace and a delightful way to pass time. Only in our past is delayed gratification romantic instead of exasperating. Our sojourn to the past leaves us rejuvenated, consoled, warmed and enthused.

It comes as no surprise then that the ‘retro’ party was a huge success where everyone got a chance to relive their past. It was amidst laughter, surprise, awe and reminiscing that I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter whether the ‘good old days were’ really good. What matters is our belief that they were.  Don’t we all empathise with Twenty One Pilots as they sing “Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days when our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out”?

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