Thinking about: Nostalgia

Anyone who has read my posts and fictional stories lately cannot help but to have noticed that they are steeped in nostalgia. This is something I cannot seem to escape. Whether my school-days, London life in the early 1960s, or harking back to simpler times, and less complicated lives. It is nothing new on this blog of course, as long-term followers will know very well.

I recall that many of you manage to avoid this compulsion to look back. You cope well without the constant reflections on former relationships, life in an age before electronics, old money, and weights and measures that meant something. You have adapted, moved on, and are looking forward. I get that, and understand why you do it. In my case, it seems to get harder to do this every year. As I move on to one more birthday, one extra year in age, my mind refuses to allow me to embrace what future might lie ahead, and takes me back to places I used to live, and things I once did.

When I first retired, I felt frustrated about this. Sit quietly in the garden, lay down in bed to sleep for the night, and my past life played out in my mind like old films in long-demolished cinemas. No matter how hard I tried, and I did try, I couldn’t get those images and memories to stop running through my mind. Eyes closed or open, they were still there. I wrote about it on this blog, in the hope that would deal with it. But that didn’t work.

By the end of 2017, I stopped trying, and just let it happen. As a result, I spent most of this year feeling like I was living two lives. Half in the present, with my routine with Ollie, and life in Beetley, and half in the past, still going to school, shopping in familiar streets, or playing in parks in the school holidays. Riding on the backs of those pleasant memories come the bad ones. Failed relationships, unpleasant things seen and done in difficult jobs, and bad decisions that I have had to live with ever since.

You can’t pick and choose what comes into your mind, it would seem.

Is this just a normal aspect of getting older? I don’t know, as it is the first time I have become old. Taking to other people around the same age, they don’t appear to wallow in nostalgia in the same way. Or perhaps they hide it better, who knows? But I have managed to settle into it, and no longer resist it.

Nostalgia has become my friend.

69 thoughts on “Thinking about: Nostalgia

  1. I think some people live more inside themselves than others, which is by no means a bad thing: it’s partly personality and partly because they have good memories. I find it simply natural to reflect on things and make comparisons and draw conclusions, and that’s what I blog about. I don’t think it nostalgic in the sickly sense of the word. I like writing and it’s what I write about. I do have a present-day life as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, TD. I also have a present day life of course. But sometimes, I tend to find myself living in the one I used to have. πŸ™‚
      Thanks also for following my blog, which is appreciated.
      Best wishes, Pete.


  2. I think this is wonderful. I revel in a state of limbo between nostalgia and moving ahead. Both happen- the nostalgia fills the heart, and the present fills the mind. We need both. Win-win. So, enjoy all those memories. I certainly do. Best to you, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I too know those feelings Pete – but like you, I don’t dwell on them. I keep them in the memory box with all the other treasures from my past life. Like you, I remain active, have friends and family, think, blog, read and participate in life. One can be nostalgic without becoming maudlin. The past is just what it is – passed. Put the treasures away and forget the rest.

    Best wishes for 2019.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I like to be reminded, as its likely to be a good memory if someone else remembers, not always, but most of the time. Your posts certainly make me smile as I think back to my own similar experiences, albeit 18 years further down the line.
    As for wallowing, my pigs seem to enjoy it, it keeps them cool and stops the biting insects πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I always thought it intriguing and poignant that the etymology of ‘nostalgia’ is ‘the pain of return’.

    I have to say that much of what passes for ‘reality’ in the present (yes, partway a philosophical irony or whathaveyou, that phrase) does not make me happy or encouraged, and so I tend to be rather insular in some ways–I avoid watching news and things like that although i do get the odd highlights, and tend to read older paperbacks every night. I do get out and about, but live in a fairly old-fashioned place, near Woodstock NY in the US, and the sense of community and all near here cheers me up, especially since many ofthe folks are my age and older but still viable and friendly. In my case, a number of my friends in person and online are actual old-fashioned multiple personalities/DID folks, and they do have more than one insider, and while I am not officially multiple, I tend to be more like you, having an internal life or lives that is generally more fun and less stressful than the outside these days. *shrug* I guess we all cope with life in our respective ways, and I hope you enjoy your versions of reality–I hope we all do.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I admit to being nostalgic and it does seem to increase the older I get (though let’s not admit to being ‘old’ quite yet – let’s make 80 the target for that.) As a writer I think it makes for some fertile material. I’m just finishing up a new biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder (‘Prairie Fires’) and all her writing came in her sixties based upon the memories of her childhood days on the Great Plains. So maybe you’ll put all your reflections into into a memoir someday – or maybe you’re doing that already, post by post!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I don’t think of it as nostalgia, nor do I consider it wallowing. You aren’t longing for the past, so no nostalgia. You aren’t sitting still in your recliner, so not wallowing. Instead you are doing what I think everyone in old(and we are old in my book)age does which is to continually do a life review, making sense of so many things that we didn’t understand at the time. The quote that “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards” from Kierkegaard seems to be the apt name for the process.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Nostalgia is all well and good Pete as long as you don’t start to forget what you did yesterday. My recently deceased M-i-L spent much of her last years reminiscing about the past and her life as a young woman (though not entirely accurately) but couldn’t remember what day it was most of the time. She was old. Would have been 95 yesterday had she lived. Like Mary I don’t think you as old at all. And maybe all this wallowing is just because you are not particularly happy in your life at the moment. Perhaps you need a hobby or something that is not as solitary as writing and blogging. A change of scenery? A move to a more lively location? Nothing wrong with remembering the good times, but try and create some good times now too πŸ˜€

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I am not in the financial situation to move. And unless I could live somewhere special, perhaps on the south coast, I doubt I would bother. Norfolk has enough to offer, if I want to go and look for it.
      It’s hard to explain, even in a blog post, but I don’t set out to ‘actively wallow’. I sit happily writing, or going about my everyday stuff with Ollie, and my thoughts are often consumed by the past. Even if I try to think about something else, it manages to return to nostalgia.
      As for forgetting what day it is, if I live to 95, I expect that will be the least of my worries. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Ah, Pete.. welcome to my world as well… and that is not patronizing blogging one bit, buddy. I am constantly in denial of my age across the board. It sucks. It’s entirely about reaching a point where our age makes us irrelevant in life. Family doesn’t need us, it seems our children are simply insensitive Millennials who go about doing their thing and storing us on some shelf of life.. only to “maybe” take us out to resume a past relationship when they themselves get older and begin to wonder.
    I listen to Boomer music.. oldies rock. I refuse to not work.. or enter the non-working retirement, for fear of accepting I am not part of life anymore… so I am in a putz security guard job, one step below a Walmart greeter. I think younger people don’t know what the hell they are doing in life or what is truly important; I have become what my own grandparents and parents were to me as they aged.
    I don’t fear death at all, although it’s human to fear a bit of the pain of death or slow awareness that it might be just the “next day” away because I got some loathsome aging disease like cancer or I am forced to finish out my life in a goddamned wheelchair, unable to even lift a gun to my own head to die with some false impression of dignity in being by my own hand. At least when I was in the military if I chose to die it would have been in a blaze of gunfire in a frontal assault for God and country and to save my fellow buddies. There’s certainly nothing heroic about aging. Yet.. given all the random shootings occurring everywhere and anywhere I have promised to myself I would walk toward the shooting, fearless and steadfast, to bring down the sonuvabitch in a “it’s either him or me” effort.. not one bit wishing to die.. but not wishing to just sit there cowering in a corner when I am a fully capable ex-military guy who maybe can do one more thing that makes a difference in life. And if that means absorbing a few bullets so some nutcase empties his magazine quicker, and maybe someone else will take advantage of his pausing to reload… so be it.

    Within the last six months I’ve learned I got some crazy disease of the hands called Dupuytren’s contracture.. it afflicts mostly males of Northern European descent.. it’s called the “Viking disease”, of all things. Movement and coordination is diminishing and while there is some mild remedies and some attempt to use surgery, nothing it guaranteed to cure it completely. I managed so far to have dodged serious skin cancer bullet. I am wary of even the slightest pain in the body somewhere, I suspect the symptoms of a common cold assuming it’s a sign the end is near. Some muscle ache, a neck ache… is always a suspected precursor to something that will turn me into a Michael J. Fox or Stephen Hawking.

    Yeah.. I hear ya, Pete. Aging is a bitch and you’re not alone. Fortunately I don’t have much in life I regret; I tend to replay childhood memories that are usually good. My 5 years in the funeral business and hauling out the dead from various scenes of tragedy have fortunately not given me PTSD. I find I just cannot stop working in some way.. as then I would be surrendering to “it”.
    As long as I got all this Viking blood inside me just give me the Viking funeral. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your own experiences and thoughts, Doug. Sorry to hear about those Viking hands. Most of us in the UK have some Viking DNA, so I will be looking at my own hands with renewed interest.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. it’s always good to look back and reminisce but ‘letting go’ though hard at times, is necessary. we all have stories to tell, Pete. good and bad. i’d like to keep the good, move forward and enjoy life. regards.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I have always been a live in the present moment person, for better or worse. When I look back, I tend to dwell on things that weren’t so pleasant so that keeps me grounded in the moment. I am conservative about looking beyond the here and now, which is a part of my faith. That said, I am getting more and more fondly nostalgic about movies and music, which is par for the course and my age.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Hi Pete – I think having grandchildren keeps me squarely in the present. Being a science fiction writer I visit the future regularly! We are watching My Brilliant Friend based on the first book in a four part series by Elena Ferranti. It’s well done and is about female friendships in the same time era as I grew up in England, though it takes place in a poor neighborhood in Naples. It’s fun as I watch to reflect on who I was and who my friends at the time were both male and female. Was I like Lila or Lenu – both I think. I like the tv series almost better than the book since it cuts to the chase, and Ferranti does go on and on in her books and often looses her audience I think.

    Anyway I know what you mean since this series has taken me back quite viscerally to being a teenage girl growing up in a particular time one when women had few options.

    Enjoy those memories of the past you have!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. First, can I say I wish you’d stop referring to yourself as old. We’re the same age and I am NOT old! Aging, maybe, but not yet old. Having said that, I see nothing wrong in wallowing in nostalgia. Past events and our reactions to them are what made us who we now are and I think we look back to trace our journeys and make sense of it all. I enjoy your nostalgia posts, especially as they trigger my own memories. Keep on wallowing – just stop thinking of yourself as old. And the things you do today – walks with Ollie, making a trip to welcome a new baby – will become memories in the future.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks, Mary. I suppose my idea of what constitutes being ‘old’ hasn’t changed since my late teens. ‘Over 65’ is an age when society officially regards us as old, and an age when most of my male relatives had already died. People live longer these days, but not that much longer, on average.
      So I can’t help but think of 66 as old, even though I would never suggest for a moment that you are also ‘old’. You still look far too young for me to think that πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. It’s like your brain is working against you. Especially trying to sleep, your brain walks you through every thing you’ve done wrong in your life, all the things you feel guilty about, what bills you need to pay, what you forgot to do yesterday, etc , etc.!!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I bet you know I’m eye-rolling you πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€
    Maybe having a happy life back in the day isn’t such a good thing if you feel it’s all downhill now and causes this incessant wallowing . Also I wonder if it’s a bloke thing, (I’m generalising here of course ) as chaps do seem to mourn the loss of their youth and virility whilst ladies thank the lord all that crap is over with πŸ˜€ and tend to crack on with hobbies and coffee meetings etc etc.
    Chunks of my earlier life was not so happy so I do not remenisce with rose or any other tinted glasses on, and I am just happy that my life has improved as time goes on and I can look forward to the rest of it. Also having a bad memory helps. πŸ™‚ Anyways your wallowings are always entertaining so keep calm and carry on πŸ˜€

    Liked by 7 people

    1. You were one of the people I was thinking of with the line ‘I recall that many of you manage to avoid this compulsion to look back.’ Maybe it is more common for men, I have no way of knowing. All I do know is that it is something that has me in its grasp. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. Hi Pete,

    I really enjoyed this post and can confirm that it is something that resonates with me. The older I get, the more I reminisced about my childhood, my teenage years and life before London. What is perplexing is that I have lived in London longer that I had in Malaysia! Maybe the London memories will start to kick in when I am in my 70-ies.

    The focus seems to be the future when I was a teenager but that dynamic has slowly taken the reverse route. Now I understand why my grandmother was trying to tell me as much as she could when I visited her in during her declining years. I think that was her way of dealing with it and wanting her descendent to understand her stories, what she went through and how she coped. My aging mum and aunts do the same now, telling me their childhood stories when they get some time with me. Maybe in doing so gave them some assurance that some of those stories are passed on and some kind of history is being recorded to acknowledge their existence.

    I would encourage you rejoice in the life that you had and the one you have now as these are the only lives that we know. Writing about your thoughts will help to preserve your history to future generations so they have a reference on what life was about before the internet took over every aspect of our lives now. Keep writing, keep posting and importantly – enjoy the moment be it past, present or future!

    Take care Pete,
    Natalie xxx (Antony’s wife)

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Don’t worry about it Pete. It’s pretty normal to reminisce right? You think of the good old days and you tend to compare but everything comes a bit different. As we grow older, we appreciate the past that gives our present some meaning and our future something to look forward to.

    Liked by 5 people

  18. Thanks, Pete. People seem to deal with it differently. One of my aunts, who lived in the UK for many years but now is back in Spain, talks a lot about England, although insists she does not want to go back there (perhaps it is for my benefit). My mother does every so often but seems more focused on things that are due to happen short-term (appointments, celebrations…). I had a similar experience, the living two lives at the same time when I first moved to the UK. I kept thinking that real life was going on in Barcelona and I was in some sort of alternative universe… After a while, I lost the sense of connection to my other life. Now sometimes I think about locations, mostly and some moments, but not always very far back… Enjoy the good memories…

    Liked by 4 people

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