On Nostalgia

This weekend I watched the new Chip ‘ N Dale: Rescue Rangers movie on Disney+. The original cartoon had its heyday when I was in elementary school. I remember coming home to watch the show along with Gummi Bears, Ducktales, Tale Spin, and my favorite Darkwing Duck.

The movie brought back many memories of those shows and those times. I remembered them fondly. Life was easier, some might even say better, back then. For a couple hours, I was lost in a state of nostalgia.

Nostalgia isn’t wrong or hurtful in and of itself, but it can be dangerous. It can become very easy to remember “the good ol’ days.” The older we get, the better the memorialization of those “days” becomes. Besides our memory of them often being riddled with inaccuracies, living in the past cripples our present. We get stuck wishing for our situation to do the one thing it cannot do: go back in time.

The saying goes, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift. That is why they call it the present.” So, are we supposed to always be living in the here and now? Living for today helps us to treasure the moments that otherwise might quickly pass us by, unnoticed. I love to be fascinated by things I observe or unusual experiences that I get to share. However, what sets humans apart from other living things is that we as humans get to create the future.

When my to-do list gets much too long, I prioritize and say to myself, “Some of these tasks will have to be a problem for future Nate.” My decisions now affect future Nate for better or worse. The same is true for you. You are a creator. We are all creators. We create the future. The decisions you make now have a strong impact in determining the life that future you will experience. What life are you creating for future you?

So, if nostalgia can be dangerous and we can get overwhelmed by the present and the future is unknowable… how are we supposed to live? Life is lived best when we remember our past with honesty, cherish  and be aware of our present, and make decisions now that will create the best future.

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