Do you feel nostalgia hurt like bee stings?
Or do you feel it’s like standing on a beach staring out into the ocean of your past, as each wave touches your bare feet it pulls you in, deeper into the ocean without any effort on your part. Soon you are knee deep and then waist deep in memories. You’re left looking around wondering how did I get here?
One of my favourite movies had a dialogue which stuck with me. A rough translation goes like this, ‘Always look forward in life, leave the past where it belongs and move on.’ Ironically, that’s the opposite of what the leads in the movie actually do. Anyhow, somehow this line has come back to bite me more than once. Every single time, I’ve opened that tempting door to the past, it’s swung right back in my face.
The chime of a church bell, swirling thick mist, the smell of steamy cocoa, colourful paperclips, letters on lined paper, crispy samosas fresh out of boiling oil with ice cold Pakola, and many more feels can set me off. I am reminded of long forgotten friends and dive right in that ocean of memories hoping to find a secret world I’ve missed of colourful flora and fauna. Instead there is a chasm of vapid nothingness. But I am looking at those days and those people with sepia coloured lenses which give everything a golden glow. Reality never measures up to the pretty version in my head.
When I make contact it’s like reaching out to the alien world up there. Surprisingly, there is no common ground, and sometimes not even enough civil ground for us to tread on. Since this has happened with me more than a few times, I have kept the dialogue from the movie as my mantra of sorts. Always look forward in life. I’ll add a few here to make the point stick; Let the past be. Do not dig up old graves. Let the dead lie in peace. As long as I follow this mantra I am fine. The problem begins when I ignore this principle and look back.
Just to make it clear; nothing untoward has ever happened. None of my forgotten friends turned out to be serial killers. It just leaves a lingering distaste, you know? Like when you are expecting a crème brulee and a Jell-O turns up (yeah ok, that was borrowed from Pretty Woman). And somehow in this process, of reaching out, making contact and trying to renew an old friendship due to my sentimentalism (which most times is a by-product of boredom), I end up ruining those happy memories in my head. In their place a question mark is left hanging: how did you ever get on with this person? Like how? Are you even the same person?
The logical part of me reasons that as time passes we grow and change. We experience a multitude of sorrows and joys. We live through our interpretations of heaven and hell. We grow older, we get stronger, we fight the punches life throws at us, picking our broken bones and moving on. Sometimes taking a break to recover enough and then get right back at it. Our bodies change, but most importantly our feelings and perspectives change as well. We will never be the same people we were. Therefore, it is reasonable that our buddies from the past would have changed as well.
So, I don’t look at my stumbling on the path leading back a few times with too much concern. But yeah, walking forward is definitely better.