The Pull of Nostalgia

Pondering on just why nostalgia exists and how it is so strong in our lives.

Nostalgia is an idea and mood that is often referenced in our lives as we grow older, but rarely do we actually stop and ponder the word itself. Just what is Nostalgia and why is it so prevalent in our minds? What is it really- an emotion, an idea, a mindset? Oftentimes it is mentioned or applied to a moment when a person looks back on their life to a specific moment or thing and feels longing and melancholy. Whether its our childhood in general or a specific period of our lives, as years go by we tend to become more and more fond of the times we have lived as things continue to change and evolve.

Is it an idea filled with regret, with sadness, with love, with fondness, or with happiness? Sometimes it can be all of these things. Is it a delusion- nothing more than each of us placing rose-tinted glasses on when we look back to our past in reflection? We never know just what will become nostalgic for us when we are living in the moment- we grow to love things as we discover them and it is our time spent on that time that solidifies its place in our mind and heart. For, at its core, nostalgia is a thing of love: love of a place, a person, a hobby, an event, an object, etc.. It is often based on something that we treasure and deem as precious- even as something that is a focal point of our lives.

Whether it is a movie you watched years ago, a book you read and adored, a person who touched your soul deeply, an event that brought light an happiness in your life, or any other manner of things, this things affected you so deeply and consistently that years down the road, you still feel that rush of love and happiness when you think about it. Many times we even find ourselves retracing our steps- attending as many concerts as we can, rereading the books we loved, rewatching the movies that we adored, playing a sport we enjoyed, replaying an old song, checking in with old friends- as the years go by, taking pleasure in the rush of ‘nostalgia’ that we feel in each instance. Each of these things holds a spark or glimmer in our eyes that rarely if ever fades.

I’m a massive Disney fan- Disney itself is a vehicle of nostalgia, really, as many of us grew up watching the movies and shows that this company created. Honestly, Disney practically runs on nostalgia if you think about it- advertising beloved characters, remaking movies, encouraging you to visit their parks, convincing you to buy their merchandise- all of it is centered on the emotions you feel regarding whichever movie is the current focus or topic. My favorite Disney movie and the one I go to for comfort is the cartoon Robin Hood. I could be in an absolutely rotten mood and the second I put that movie on and hear the music start, I can’t help but smile. I sit there, smiling and laughing along with the various characters, singing or humming along to the different songs, and by the end of the movie, my rotten mood is gone and I am absolutely filled with nostalgia. How can so much happiness and joy be found in a short hour and a half long movie made almost 50 years ago about personified animals? It’s mindboggling really.

I’m also a massive bookworm, since I picked up a ‘Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes’ book in first or second grade and read it to myself day after day. My childhood comfort series was the Magic Treehouse Series. My goodness- my imagination was completely captivated by this book series when I found it in third grade at the school library. That series became absolutely foundational for my love of reading and history and I often found myself looking back on my time reading that series so long ago and the nostalgia was so powerful that I ended up buying all 70 or so books of the series for my bookshelves last year so I could have and own the complete collection. The ‘simple’ emotion of nostalgia was the cause of that action.

Whatever it is that pulls at your nostalgia, none of us can deny how powerful a force it is. Some of us fall so in love with a hobby that we make it our lives or careers, or remember a person so fondly that we reconnect with them again, or spend money traveling to different places that we have once been to, or put in the effort to create a halloween or comic-con costume of our favorite characters to show everyone around us. And it is all an accepted part of society because each of us is affected by this mood by some degree or form. I don’t know quite where I am going with this, it is just something that occurred to me today and I couldn’t help but pause and reflect on something that I have always taken for granted as a normal frame of mind for myself. Whatever the reason or explanation for nostalgia itself, we cannot deny that it creates so much happiness an joy in each of our lives and, honestly, who can ever fault anyone for wanting more love and happiness in their lives through recognized and adored things of the past?