Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Memory lane

I'm not one for nostalgia. I don't sit around fondly remembering some supposed golden period of my life when everything fell into place and I coasted along on a wave of trouble-free happiness. I wouldn't be so daft.

I may have a terrible memory, but I remember enough to know there was no such golden period and every part of my life has thrown up problems and crises and disappointments as well as the things that went well and made me happy.

There can only be some imagined golden period if you gloss over the negative bits and exaggerate the successes. If you ignore the leaky roof and the grumpy landlord and the extortionate rent and flag up the sexy girlfriends, the wild parties and the brilliant rock festivals. But I can't do that. I always remember both sides of the picture, the rough and the smooth, the crap and the haute cuisine.

Neither do I believe, as many people seem to, that the difficult bits of my life in 2016 are somehow more difficult and more frustrating than anything I had to deal with in years gone past. It may seem like it at the time, when I'm desperately trying to sort out something horribly complicated, but I know in retrospect it'll seem much more prosaic.

Schooldays are the best days of your life? You must be joking. The comfortably settled years of middle age? Give me a break. They weren't any better than life right now, and in some ways were a lot worse.

I have very few momentos of my early life, and I don't feel the lack of them. I'm not one to pore over blurry old photos or musty childhood toys or a faded school blazer, overcome by wistful pangs and a tear or two. What's gone is gone and I'm impatient to move forward.

The good old days? Don't make me laugh.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think each of us has a very personal approach concerning memories. I am young and my childhood memories seem to be still very near. My school years , sorry, were wonderful. Quite interesting teachers and so many friends. First love full of surprises . And well my little son loves the teddybear I had as a small child. Good old days...I do not know what it means at the moment, maybe in 20 years my statement will be as yours.
Mia More

Nick said...

Mia: I think there's a difference between simply appreciating certain good times in your life, and on the other hand seeing them as some sort of idyllic period never to be repeated. I guess I was thinking mainly of the latter. But it's good that your childhood memories are so positive.

tammy j said...

I am not sentimental either. never was one for keepsakes and such.
although the memories I have of my early married life with bob...
well... I was literally so head over heels that I'm sure
those memories are colored a particular hue just because of that fact.
then losing him as I did make them even more dear now.
kind of like leaving a party before it gets boring I guess.
and as to living in the now...
it's the only way to live really. it's all we have!

CheerfulMonk said...

I love my life right now and wouldn't want to go back to an earlier period.

Nick said...

Tammy: That sounds similar to Mia. You have good memories of your early married life but you're not necessarily saying it was a golden period in your life. Your motto is living in the now.

I get bored at parties quite quickly, but Jenny could sometimes cheerfully go on all night!

Jean: Me too. Right now my life is just the way I want it to be.

Dave Martin said...

Rose-tinted spectacles can be a dangerous thing, distorting the past into some sort of long lost idyll, and it's an easy trap to fall in to.
Sure there have been good times, but equally there have been things in my past that I wish I could go back and undo - make different decisions to the ones that led me down the wrong path.

However, you can't change the past and nobody knows for sure what tomorrow holds.
Living for now is the only logical way.

Nick said...

Dave: That's it, even in what you think of as a great few years, there are still things that make you cringe and wish they could be undone. The idyll that never was. Better to focus on getting the best out of the present. I'd love to have a clearer picture of what the future holds though....

Ursula said...

I think there is a middle ground, Nick. I am very fond of the past. I am fond of the present. Will I be fond of the future? So far so good. One minute at a time.

For me loving the past, its people and places has nothing to do with "rose tinted spectacles". Not at all. It's just that I, possibly, had - on the whole - a very good life. I look at photos and it makes me happy - whether a 1896 shot of one of my sets of great grand parents (who I never met), the odd snapshot of my childhood with my beloved grandparents, my parents at their wedding day (I was their bridesmaid), my siblings, and most of all those documenting my son from 27 September 1991 to this day. Makes me so happy I am close to tears whilst smiling. Same with letters.

Unlike, say WWW, I have kept momentos. Not many. But those I have are much much cherished. One is decades old. A tiny little vase (Venetian glass). Makes my heart sing - and it's in my vision every day - remembering the very good and lovely friend who gave it to me on my seventeenth birthday. The first present my son gave me. His first and later scriblings, his poetry. Letters from and to my family. Inscriptions/dedications in books given to me. And so on and so on. Maybe I am just very lucky and appreciative, Nick. I wish more people were.

Affectionately,
Ursula

Maria said...

I have lovely memories of my childhood, teenage days and adulthood. I've had my ups and downs, lost a son. I am not having a good period, healthwise, right now, but hopefully it will be behind me and only an added memory. Believe me Nick, I treasure all my memories, good or bad that they may or may have been. I truly believe that the past make us what we are today. I was a very happy child; I want to be an happy adult too and, when I'm a 100, yes I will live to be 100, I want to remember I was happy today.

Oops, now that I've re-read what I've written, I think it doesn't make much sense. But Nick, I'm sure you understand what I mean.
Greetings Maria x

Nick said...

Ursula: As I said to Mia, I think there's a difference between (a) looking back affectionately at your memories and (b) looking back at what you see as a golden period compared with nowadays. It's (b) that involves the rose-tinted specs.

You're obviously the total opposite of me, as you like collecting momentos of all the significant occasions (and people) in your life. Nothing wrong with that of course. I'm sure they give you a great deal of pleasure.

As I say, I rely more on my memory, fallible though it is. I still remember my maternal granny with great affection, though I have no photos or momentos of her whatever.

Rummuser said...

I am not deliberately nostalgic for the past. What usually happens is that something triggers nostalgia and for a while old memories return. If one is busy, one has little time for nostalgia.

Nick said...

Maria: That all makes perfect sense! I'm glad you had such a happy childhood, and I'm sure that's helped you to become a happy adult, as you suggest. I was a fairly happy child till I was sent to a dreadful boarding school, and that experience has haunted me ever since.

I hope you recover from your health problems. And I hope you live to 100. Jenny also wants to live to 100, but I'd rather not. Goodness knows how frail and decrepit I'll be by then!

Nick said...

Ramana: Oh yes, I can be triggered into fits of nostalgia as well. But I don't pretend what I'm remembering was some sort of shangri-la, as some people do. It's just casting my mind back for a little while.

John Gray said...

I remember very little about my childhood.......i dont know if it was that unhappy or infact it was just piss boring....

Secret Agent Woman said...

I don't believe there's much sense in nostalgia for some impossibly wonderful time period in the past. On the other hand, I absolutely love reminiscing about good times in the past. And I can say that in spite of an abusive childhood. Perfect? No way. But I still remember what was good about it. School memories are mostly good, filled with friends and wonderful teachers. I got to do and see some really interesting things growing up. I have good memories of my first marriage, good memories from the time in between marriages, and am happily building good memories with my new husband. I don't long for my past since I'm pretty excited about now and about my future. But I do enjoy looking back with fondness. It's half the reason I blog - so I'll have those memories captured.

Nick said...

John: My teenage years were a combination of the two! If you remember so little, then I imagine your childhood must have been fairly happy.

Nick said...

Agent: Ah, you see the distinction I'm making, that other people seem to have missed. It's good that you have so many positive memories of all the key events in your life. And that despite your abusive childhood. And now you seem to be going through another exciting period in your life with your new husband. I guess your work as a therapist helps you to iron out any personal hang-ups.

Wisewebwoman said...

Making peace with the past has been a huge part of my more "mature years". Addiction dulled the pain until I was in my early forties. I think I have a balanced perspective on it all now. But I truly live in the moment and take only occasional glances in that rear view mirror.
XO
WWW

Nick said...

www: Making peace with the past is very important. If you're still haunted by something that happened decades ago, that burden needs to be lightened somehow. I must say the bad memories of my own childhood are gradually becoming less significant.

Bijoux said...

I think every season of life teaches us something. And I wouldn't mind learning something from my college years again!

Nick said...

Bijoux: Indeed, every year teaches us something new. But the idea that one particular period was nothing but glittering delight is surely an example of false memory syndrome. There's always disappointment as well as delight.