"Nostalgia is a seductive liar." --George Wildman Ball
"Things ain't what they used to be and probably never was." --Will Rogers
"I don't like nostalgia unless it's mine." --Lou Reed
"Nostalgia for what we have lost is more bearable than nostalgia for what we have never had." --Mignon McLaughlin
"A feeling of sadness and longing that is not akin to pain, and resembles sorrow only as the mist resembles the rain." --Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I recently went back to Stanford for the west coast business school Challenge 4 Charity Weekend. It was my first time back on campus for more than a couple of hours, and the nostalgia hit me really hard. It was incredible how many things I felt at once. It got me thinking about what nostalgia really means, why it exists, and whether others experience it the same way. Here's just a sample of the many thoughts that ran through my mind that weekend:
Wow, I remember that corner! And my bike! And getting lunch here! That was so pleasant.
Wow, I feel old. I feel out of place. Why am I here?
I want to be here. I like it here. Can I stay? Can I go back (in time, in space)? Where do I belong?
Where are my friends? Where is everyone who was here when I was? What if I could bring them all back now? Would I?
This place is the same, but I'm different. That's good. I see it in a new way now.
This place has changed. Have I? Did it change me? All these new amazing buildings and cafes. But I'm still me. How much have I missed?
It was so nice to reconnect with a place I spent four years getting to know. It was so nice seeing some old friends and catching up. It was so nice seeing that the dorm room I decorated and undecorated four times in a row is still there, with little change. Except for its occupant. Who's room is it, anyways?
What do you think? Have you had experiences like this? What are we supposed to do about nostalgia (if anything)? What is the right way to acknowledge and honor it?