A thought-provoking adage says God has given us memories so that we may have roses in December. Admittedly, indulging in a bit of nostalgia is quite common and pleasant.
However, frequent reminiscing can prove harmful. This happens when a constant comparison is made between a glorious past that has vanished and a present that is fast deteriorating. The individual who does this is one who has not come to terms with changing times. Filled with frustration and gloom, he is well on his way to becoming a pessimist.
In such a person’s memory, things in the days gone by were much less expensive and crimes rare. In the good old days, people were trustworthy and helpful. Families were closer and children respectful. However, has a Utopia of this kind ever existed? Not really. History tells us of many cruel and unnecessary wars that were waged. Violence and greed were as rampant in the past as they are now. Infectious diseases abounded and poverty was wide-spread.
It is clear that though science and technology have made great strides, human nature has remained much the same down the ages. What is labeled as ‘good times’, is simply the result of the mind working on memories, reshaping and altering them. The inevitable result is that whoever indulges in it becomes dispirited and critical.
Learning why this happens can help us avoid or break this destructive habit. Youth is a time filled with hope and promise. One feels confident of breaking old moulds and building a brave, new world. Unfortunately experience proves that this is not quite so easy. Disappointments, failures and betrayals can all take their toll. Weakened in spirit and body, one looks back, yearning for a time when things were brighter, the body stronger and the heart happier. A selective memory creates the illusion that times then were much better. Disenchantment sets in and, if this is allowed to grow, worse follows. One becomes critical of others.
There is the temptation to regard all change as retrograde. One’s outlook narrows and the individual turns sour, unhappy and unapproachable. The sad result is isolation and loneliness.
Our longing for paradises of the past does not allow us to get meaning and pleasure from the present. Satisfaction and happiness lie in reaching out to others and making better people of ourselves. Goodness never was and never is dead. There is always much we can do and much to be gained and what helps us to keep this in mind is to acknowledge that there can be no rose without a thorn.