Do you ever get caught up reminiscing about the past too much? I do. I’m a really nostalgic person, and some of my favorite conversations with people are actually just us remembering experiences together. My husband and I lay in bed at night recalling our first interactions, first dates, our wedding, and our first home a lot of nights. We enjoy the nostalgia (both of us being really sentimental). I also love the inside jokes with long time friends that come when recalling past hangouts, or the laughter about a story from childhood.
But sometimes I think I live a little too much in my nostalgia… It’s the same kind of thing as people who may live a little too much in the virtual world… Just another side of the same coin.
Daniel and I were discussing it last night and realized that the people we know who seem unable to look beyond the past, and just continue to try to live out “the good ol’ days” over and over are not very happy, or very deep people. During that conversation, I realized, I’m in my twenties! I am growing and aging every year, and I don’t want to turn into a bitter old woman who has lost sight of the Reason. A woman incapable of having new adventures, only telling the same stories repeatedly and in search of happiness.
That thought was… sobering. I DO want to have NEW adventures. I want to stop living in the past, no matter how great it was. There’s a time to recall the romance of the firsts (like on our upcoming anniversary) and there are times to reminisce about the silliness of youth. But those should be “moments” to share and have that are the exception, not the rule.
I want to meet my people where they are at… not ask them to continue being something they were a decade ago. People evolve, and I don’t want to enslave anyone into being something that they used to be, just like I don’t want to enslave myself by living too much in the past. I don’t want to recreate the past.
Sure, the past was great. I’ll never forget the way my heart dropped into my stomach when the guy I was secretly crushing on for three years confessed his growing love for me. It makes me blush, even all these years later, but that was then. There’s a time for budding romance, and it’s not that the past (where that belonged) was better. It was just different. All parts of life have good and bad, and in hindsight, do we ever really focus on the bad?
But in the present, it’s easy to focus on the bad, because uncertainty plays a role. Looking back, everything is certain. The uncertainty in wondering if Daniel and I would get married doesn’t come to mind when I think of our romance. Only the certainty of our wedding day, and the certainty of being cherished. In the here and now, there’s more than enough uncertainty about life to send me running back to the safety and comfort of my favorite moments in the past.
Fear of discomfort seems to be the reason I and a bunch of others feel the need to relive the glory days. Why chance it when the past is a sure thing? Well, because people grow, and what once was great may have become a box we don’t fit into anymore. And oftentimes, if we do still fit in that box, that does not mean we SHOULD.
We need to be continuously evolving and growing, because there is no arrival. We are thinking really dangerously if we start to believe that we have arrived. We are a work in progress on this earth.
Maybe all of that is why it was sobering for me to realize that I’ve been living too much in the past. Isn’t that just another form of thought that I’ve arrived? What was then is what life is all about, and I’m finished. There’s so much wrong with that way of thinking that I can’t even put it all into words!
I think I also need to remember that adventures and stories are a wonderful part of the journey, but they aren’t the point! Nobody sets out to “have an adventure” without a destination in mind. At least, nobody who ends up having a good adventure… The destination, to me, is Christ. The journey is to get to Him, and the the adventures are what happen on the way there.
Thinking on the past too much has allowed me to focus on the adventure part, which is just not the point. I do not want to become the kind of person who relives the same adventures for the sake of the adventure. I want to be the kind of person who has NEW ADVENTURES for the sake of the journey to Jesus. I want my focus to be on the meaning of life, and not on the benefits of life.
So no more hashing out “the good ol’ days” for me. I’ll save that sweet nostalgia for intimate moments when it’s appropriate, and I’m going to start keeping track of how many times per day I start to dwell on the past, or how many times in conversation I say, “remember when.”
The past is a gift I’ve been given. A sweet slice of pie to savor after a hearty dinner. But I still have to eat that hearty dinner, vegetables included, and occasionally, I’ll savor that dessert.
From now on, the only thing I want to “remember” daily is reason for it all. The destination. The Kingdom of Heaven. And I do hope I have some new adventures on the way.