There's a scene in The Office, where Andy reflects upon his best moments in life to the documentary crew. He starts by saying that he thought his days at Cornell were his best days, but then he thought his days at The Office were his best days, and then he pauses. He has a realization. He says: I wish there was a way to know when it was your best days.
Andy's character was onto something. Many of us, myself included, talk about the past and how great it was, at the demise of the present. We look upon things as they were, missing them, wishing they were here and now, while at the same time missing the present moment.
I've been journaling as a daily practice. Once the habit sinks in, a lot of things from your past come to the surface. As present and past tie together, some elements of nostalgia have crept in; I'll miss hanging out with this person, or being at that place; I'll miss being able to go here and do that. But really, what I miss is my youth. I miss the energy that came with a young body. I miss being able to go, go, go. But what I really miss is something that never happened. What I find is that what is miss is something I have now, only in hindsight. I basically wish that I could have the youth and energy, while also having my current confidence and mental ability. It doesn't work that way.
Mentally speaking, I've never been stronger. My mind is able to absorb concepts, and express those concepts, in ways I would have loved when I was younger. I'm much more self confident than I was at 24 or 28 or 30. I'm more honest, focused more on how things are instead of how they could be. I work toward making the later happen. I'm more open, more comfortable, and actively pursuing what I love. I didn't do that, then.
When the waves of nostalgia hit me, it is easy to want to go back to a time and place. What it boils to, when I really get to the root of it, is that: I wish I could see my brother more, and I wish I was in better shape.
But to go there, I would have to take a mental step back. I would have to regress on my journey for things that I can make happen in the present. Both things I want, I can make happen.
I think that what happens for so many of us is we look at our lives, and find a deficiency. We see it, and do a quick scan to a time when it was better. We then wish we could have that time, now. But instead of exchanging now for then, we want that part of life from the past, with all the good that comes from the now, also without any pain in between.
Those are big asks. It doesn't work that way.
I think the concept of heaven is so appealing to a lot of people, because we assume 'heaven' is the best parts of our lives - and any life - all tied in a nice package. We assume the best part of everything will come together and be a 'day' that goes on forever. I think that's the wrong approach.
Many of those that look to the past, and talk about the past, have a very hard time living in the present moment. They wish for days of old, missing out on the fact that you can make those same days here and now. You can take the elements you liked from the past, and make sure they are happening, now. When I look back upon the old, one of the first things that comes to mind is the physical shape I was in. Man do I miss that. But I can get back to a similar place, here and now. I am trying, but today I hurt. I'm sore today. But, I can get there.
I think that looking back and wishing then was now stunts you, and limits what you have here in the present. I think that Andy realized that he only noticed the best of times after they were done and gone. With his realization, comes the fact that what we should be doing is making the now the best possible. Comb through the elements of your life you like, make them happen more; be more honest about the deficiencies, so that they lessen. Then the nostalgia can turn to happiness, and the now can, sometime in the future, be a great then.