Nostalgia is a painful indulgence, but without some perspective of the past, it is impossible to appreciate what we have in the present.
There will be a point in life where something one enjoys, or the company of a mere acquaintance, will cease to be. I am not talking of a sudden death, death is always sudden, but the tendency of experience to drift without us being aware. One day, without us even cultivating the thought, we realise we have lost something precious.
This does not have to be something profound, in fact it is the little things, the pastimes that grow like common weeds and seem ever present in our lives, that we mourn, lamenting our arrogant sense of entitlement at not being aware of their worth at the time.
This is all the more poignant when people drift from our lives. We are all being pushed and pulled in and out of each other’s orbits, and much like gravity, we are only aware when we stop to think about it. This can make us remiss when it comes to friendship, and indeed kinship, after all, how could we function as individuals if we spent our entire time afraid of loss?
I have a fascination with “last times”, particularly the small, mundane occurrences, such as a weekly kick about with a friend or the gathering of a group of long standing companions. As we part for the final time, we are typically unaware of the significance of what we are leaving behind, it is only years afterwards that we realise what it is we have lost. Often I cannot even remember the final parting moment as it is lost in the mundane day-to-day experience of life.
Growing up and living in London, or any cosmopolitan city, grants one special perspective here. Every year a handful of close friends and acquaintances leave for greener pastures or return to some homeland, often close enough to provide false comfort, but far away enough to severe the tie. Even if they do return, or I visit them, the ecosystem has been altered, turning casual joy into some kind of tinsel strewn event.
Everything ends, without that, life would become so mundane as to make me suicidal, and just imagine the claustrophobia of craving death while being forced to live for eternity. The burden of being aware of death, however, is a weighty one; it resides in the back of our heads like the insecure compulsions of a bullying rumination, informing our decisions on an unconscious level. But spending your time worrying about death is an insult to those who never had the chance to live a full one.
The only thing for it is to live for the moment and overlook these subtle endings. To celebrate change and occasionally bask in the warm, comforting glow of a happy memory, appreciating how fortunate we were to have these people or experiences in our lives. Nostalgia is not a place to dwell, it is an experience to learn from, ensuring we never take for granted what we have, no matter how small it may appear.
© Copyright Dean Stephenson 2016