Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Not so golden

I'm not a nostalgic person. I don't yearn for some long-gone period of my life that seemed more enjoyable and idyllic than the one I'm in now.

Whatever chunk of my life I look back on, I'm very aware that it had its boring, miserable and frustrating bits as well as the rewarding bits.

I certainly don't pine for the "Swinging Sixties" as some people do. Yes, it was a time of creative ferment and the loosening of stuffy conventions, but it also saw a lot of men exploiting women in the name of "sexual liberation" and a lot of people wrecking themselves with relentless drug consumption.

I don't pine for some supposed golden age of daily life before we were swamped by the trivial and venomous outpourings of social media. It wasn't much fun trudging to the public phone box in the pouring rain, or trudging to the library to check on some disputed fact. Thank heaven for mobiles and Google.

Neither do I have nostalgia for some blissful, happy-go-lucky childhood. As you all know, my childhood was a tale of bullying and emotional violence along with the magical seaside holidays and Sunday picnics. No way would I want to go through all that again.

I think the nearest I get to nostalgia is looking back fondly to the Harold Wilson era when the welfare state and public services were cherished, money and profit weren't the be-all and end-all, there was more respect for the old and vulnerable, and the young had a much easier start in life. But even that era had its downside - homophobia was still rife, sexual norms were still very straitlaced, society was still very authoritarian in many ways.

Nostalgia's not my thing. I must have left my rose-tinted spectacles on the bus.

22 comments:

Bijoux said...

You definitely have to take the bad with the good when it comes to nostalgia.

Nick said...

Bijoux: Exactly. Which is why I'm happy to stay where I am right now.

Wisewebwoman said...

Me? No nostalgia. Ever. The only time I feel a titch of it is when I hear music I used to perform in the blaze of my youth.

I would never want to live my life over. Once was quite enough.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: Once was quite enough - my feelings entirely. I would like to relive some of the pleasures but not the traumas and screw-ups that were mingled with them.

Helen Devries said...

Me too...once was enough...though I do share the nostalgia for the Wilson era.

Nick said...

Helen: Yes, in the light of today's obsession with austerity and bashing the poor, the Wilson era looks remarkably enlightened. Though at the time it just seemed the normal way of doing things.

Cheerful Monk said...

I'm in my golden years right now. The future may be scary, but I'm enjoying what I have right now and am doing "the best I can with what I have left." It's the happiest time of my life (so far).

Nick said...

Jean: "I'm doing the best I can with what I have left." Me too. I want to do as many interesting things as I can before my body gets too decrepit and uncooperative.

John Gray said...

" Neither do I have nostalgia for some blissful, happy-go-lucky childhood. As you all know, my childhood was a tale of bullying and emotional violence along with the magical seaside holidays and Sunday picnics. No way would I want to go through all that again."

I so understand this comment

Nick said...

John: Thank you! I'm sure there are many people with similar mixed feelings about their childhood. Lucky are those whose childhood is genuinely blissful.

Jay, Sparking Synapse said...

I get very nostalgic for some things, but not for a particular era, unless it was the untroubled period when we'd just moved out of London and the country village we now lived in was all new and fresh and I was able - for the first time - to go out and play by myself and discover ... well .. everything about living in the country!

But that didn't last long, of course. They were still enlarging the village and the fields and footpaths were disappearing fast. And I was not loved at the new school, which I joined in the last primary year - I had a strange accent, I was ahead of the curriculum in many areas and was put straight into the top stream for a couple of things. And, of course, everyone else had been in friendships for years. Everything has a downside, as you say.

tammy j said...

i've not thought much about it i guess.
i'm not a collector of 'things' ever... being one who loves living with uncluttered simplicity.
which makes me come off as being unsentimental. though i enjoy hauling out particular memories!
i am definitely nostalgic though for a certain kind of music...
from a time in which i wasn't even born yet... the 20's 30's and 40's.
i relate more to it than to my own period of time... music wise especially. but as to re-living any time... no thank you!
and this post reminds me that i want to travel more in your archives.
nick is very much worth knowing.

Nick said...

Jay: Jenny was brought up in a quite countrified area on the edge of Maidenhead so would share your experience. Strangely enough the area is still pretty countrified and has so far resisted urban sprawl.

Your being ahead of the curriculum must have upset a few of the existing pupils. They must have thought you a bit of a snooty know-it-all!

Nick said...

Tammy: We also like uncluttered simplicity. And as you say, it doesn't mean we're unsentimental. We just keep all the important stuff in our heads!

Interesting that you like a musical period from way before you were born. Was that a taste you got from your parents? I don't really have a favourite musical period. I like all sorts of music from the sixties right through to now.

And feel free to nose through the archives!

Stephanie Faris said...

I get nostalgic about certain eras...but mostly it's the friends and good experiences I had. It's interesting that we look back over times in our life and think of it as a whole rather than remembering that even then, it was day to day like it is now.

Nick said...

Stephanie: I hadn't thought about nostalgia for friends and good experiences, rather than particular periods. Personally I wouldn't call that nostalgia so much as just a fond recollection. And the trouble with wanting to recreate good experiences is that they're seldom as good the second time round. They're usually tainted by a feeling of deja-vu or inflated expectations.

Very true that our memory of certain periods is artificial and doesn't reflect the reality of day-to-day existence.

Rose Blackthorn said...

The only nostalgia I experience is during my Creative Writing degree, from the beginning of 2006 when I dumped the ass of an abusive partner to the beginning of 2008. Those two years were Golden for me. Pure gold.

I hope that when I look back on these years now, I will feel the same.

Nick said...

Rose: That sounds like a good time indeed. I hope it won't be the last, that there are other golden periods still to come.

Rummuser said...

Nostalgia in my book is to remember something nice that happened and feel good about it. It does not have to be longed for to happen again. I often reminisce about such memories as some thing or the other always triggers off such reveries. I very much live in the present but do like to reminisce or to use the better word, be nostalgic.

Nick said...

Ramana: Again, I would call that fond affection rather than nostalgia proper. The dictionary certainly maintains that a wistful longing to return is involved.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I don't get very nostalgic either. I do look back with fondness on particular moments (trips I've taken, giving birth, and so on) but I don't feel any time in my life was better and I wish I were back there. Nor do I long to live in another time. I'm pretty grateful to be living with the advances in medicine, science and social justice!

Nick said...

Agent: Me neither, there's no time in my life I hanker to return to. They all have their minuses as well as their pluses. Not to mention that a second time round might be pretty boring and predictable! And yes, I'd rather be around nowadays with all the latest scientific and technological breakthroughs.