"I wish it was like the good old days again!"
How many times have we heard that tired aphorism in our lifetimes? People yearn for days of yore, childhood moments where life was simple and the world was seen through rose-colored glasses. We remember moments that warm our hearts, bring a smile to our faces, and a tear to our eye. We want that warm feeling of nostalgia to last until our dying days.
Too bad our trip in the way-back machine is often smeared with Vasoline to blur reality.
When we look back at the past, we are creating an image of what we remember. Humans, contrary to what many wish and hope for, are fallible creatures who make mistakes and promptly tell their brain to try and forget all about them. We think back over the moments in our life that are nostalgic and whitewash all of the grit and grime out of them. Our memories have become like a FOX TV sitcom shorn of all the thorny details that actually occurred and replacing them with safe reimaginings.
The people who are unable to move on with their lives often are stricken with this Nostalgia Nauseousness. They can't deal with change, so they live in a Candyland-like past of their own creation. They would rather construct a hut made of chocolate and wait until the sun melts it and reveals to them they're living in a garbage dump. These are the adults who, though they are 57, insist on making fart jokes and laughing at Adam Sandler movies.
For every minor holiday, the white trash clan that comprises our apartment complex gather together and proceed to bug the hell out of each other. Last year they had a gathering for Labor Day or one of those ancillary holidays we always forget about. One of my neighbors has a boyfriend that literally is a man-child, a poor soul who never went through puberty mentally. His girlfriend is ten years older than he, and it might as well be thirty years by the way he acts. I wasn't present during the proceedings of that day, but my mom said that this boy-child got so drunk he pretended he was Spiderman, started poking one of our neighbors, who is an ex-con who, shall we say, does not react well to people violating his personal bubble. Mister Felon then decided, after he told the annoying antagonizer than he didn't appreciate him poking him, to punch his lights (and, by proxy, some of his teeth) out. Do I even need to say that alcohol was involved?
This creature is a real-life example of Peter Pan Syndrome: the boy who never grew up. He got so comfortable living in his nostalgia fever dream that he never left. And now he's in jail after running a preteen over with his motorcycle while drunk, not enough to kill the child but enough to put him in the slammer for quite a long time, God willing. His girlfriend also is a victim of this syndrome, stuck in the past where her husband was alive and her back didn't hurt. She walks around in a daze, hoping that life will once again be what it was. The past is called the past for a reason, my friends,
This tale should serve as a warning to all of you who dwell too much in the past. Looking at your past is like going to a tanning salon. Stay in the perfect amount and you develop a nice, toasty tan. Stay in too long and you end up looking like George Hamilton after a weekend in Boca Raton. Nostalgia is a medicine that should be prescribed in small doses.
If you find yourself suffering from this ailment, I have but one solution: Live in the moment. Reality is a fluid entity, moving ever forward into the future. If you can't find happiness in the present, going back to the past will not cure you. You need to find consolation in the here and now.
And remember, living in a nostalgic daze of Saturday morning cartoons and Hubba Bubba will rot your teeth (and your brain.)