It is Thursday. This morning as I drank my coffee I saw a few TBT postings on Facebook. For those not in the know, TBT means Throw Back Thursday. Generally, it is an opportunity to share an old photo on social media of some point in time captured years ago. Personally, I think TBT is a fun look back at those yesteryear moments. I have never made any TBT postings myself, which is odd, considering the large volume of photographs I have in digital format. Pondering this over coffee this morning made me look at my own relationship with nostalgia.
I used to be extremely nostalgic. I made a point to attend every high school reunion, I would hold family keepsakes very dear, and I kept memories of bygone days in a state of reverence. I used to.
Well, I think we all have our own journey of self exploration to walk. We all have the same amount of focus to spend any way we like, that can be Past, Present, or Future. Looking back at my own modus operandi over the years, I see that my own focus has shifted and changed. Allow me to get abstract for a moment.
1980-1982: 10% Past / 35% Present / 55% Future
1983-1986: 30% Past / 20% Present / 50% Future
1987-2011: 40% Past / 20% Present / 30% Future
2012-2014: 15% Past / 50% Present / 35% Future
1980-1982: When I was a teenager, my focus was much more immediate; instant gratification. I never had much of a fascination with the past, and I was not very nostalgic. I was quite a bit of a dreamer, so my thoughts were full of future plans and ideas. The future was my prevalent focus.
1983-1986: My late teens and early twenties saw a growth of focus on the past, but realistically, I was still mostly preoccupied with future plans and dreams.
1987-2011: I spent many years of my young adult life into my forties being a somewhat nostalgic person. Being analytical, I was looking at my past and thinking about what it meant. I held memories very close, a way to go back perhaps. I never missed a high school reunion, I connected with scores of people on social media. I viewed the past as something to hold in high regard, cherished memories and relationships.
2011-2014: Mom passed away late 2011. Mom and I were very close. She was a close friend as well as my mother. Her passing hit me pretty hard for a variety of reasons. For a full year and a half after mom passed away, I would have daily thoughts and memories, and quite often they would be accompanied by a pang of loss or sorrow. For me, that was quite an extended grieving period. I still think of mom often, but the sting of sorrow has been replaced by warm memories and thoughts of great times shared. I think a by-product of this period of grieving was me letting go of nostalgia. We can’t go back. We can hold memories dear, but we can never go back. Sounds simple, but it is a subtle realization for me that I do not need to try and hold the entirety of my past to cherish portions of it. I did not go to my largest high school reunion; the 30th. I just never felt the need. Around 2011, I disconnected from a bunch of people on Facebook. I felt like I was clinging to relationships, memories, and linkages to the past that were stagnant. They were caught in a particular moment in time with little opportunity to move forward. (Or maybe that was me). In any case, I withdrew from a number of connections and a number of things. I realize now that I started to abandon those things in the early 2000’s, but it was mom’s sickness and passing that crystallized the shift for me. Dear ma, you crafty wise gal, you are still giving me life lessons. My focus these days is much more in the present. At least that is what I like to think. I still value friendships old and new, but I am less likely to maintain connections with people if we cannot grow our friendship into modern days. By that, I mean I cherish adding new memories that accompany my old ones. I will happily sit down and have a beer to reminisce, but it would be even better if we could do something new. You know, maybe we can create additional opportunities to reminisce in the days ahead.
So, here we are on a Thursday. And to honour TBT I will share a picture.
I am thankful for my past. I am grateful for the friendships I have had, and still do. I am thankful for the many fond memories of silly adventures, travels, gatherings, gaffes. Mostly, today I am thankful that I can be more present these days than I have ever been. Moments today are now more precious. I believe that I am learning to appreciate my past within the better context of the present.
“T’is better to appreciate today today, than to lament yesterday tomorrow.”