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Is nostalgia a good thing?

  1. #1
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    Is nostalgia a good thing?

    What with most us here getting on in years I'm sure a lot of us spend time thinking about the past and in particular our childhood, teens and early adult life. What with the internet, YouTube in particular it is really easy to find stuff from one's own era. I grew up in Hong Kong as an ex-pat child and had a wonderful and very happy childhood and there are loads of Facebook groups and loads of old vids on YouTube from then.



    I do enjoy looking at that old footage but it also sometimes makes me sad as they are days that can never return. How do you feel about nostalgia - if you indulge in it.

  2. #2
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    I don't know if it's a good thing, but I indulge in it a lot now that I am old.

    When you are young you have most of your life ahead of you.

    When you are old, most of it is behind you.

    Maybe that has something to do with it.

  3. #3
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    I know I'm in the minority here, because of all the 'days gone by' threads on the board.
    I try to live in the present and be into today much more than yesterdays. ..
    It just doesn't serve me well to reminisce about what was. That only brings me down, and I'm an upbeat person.

    So to answer your question, for myself and my situation, it's not a good thing.
    And yes, I had a very happy childhood, and long (49 yrs.) happy marriage.

  4. #4
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    Sigh - nostalgia just ain't what it used to be.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    To answer your question, I think a certain amount of indulgence in nostalia is unavoidable as we get older, and may even be a healthy thing. With all the changes we've lived through, it's as if we're living in a different universe than the one we grew up in. In a way, we are the bridge between the past and the future. I can remember street vendors who were still using horses and wagons, and it recently occurred to me that the oldest people I remember from my childhood were actually alive during the time of Abraham Lincoln!

    That doesn't mean that everything we remember is good, of course, or worthy of "nostalgia." I can also remember, when visiting the South as a teenager, seeing drinking fountains with White and Colored labels. My mother was not allowed to vote until she was in her 20's. My grandmothers probably never voted. People were dying of diseases that have been all but wiped out. Gay people remained in the closet their whole lives, or were shunned and ridiculed. People were miserable all summer without air conditioning. And so on; we can all add to the list.

    A great little book on this subject is "The Good Old Days - They Were Terrible!" by Otto L. Bettmann. It's a fun book to read, and should throw cold water on any fuzzy nostalgia we are giving in to.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunny View Post
    Sigh - nostalgia just ain't what it used to be.

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

    To answer your question, I think a certain amount of indulgence in nostalia is unavoidable as we get older, and may even be a healthy thing. With all the changes we've lived through, it's as if we're living in a different universe than the one we grew up in. In a way, we are the bridge between the past and the future. I can remember street vendors who were still using horses and wagons, and it recently occurred to me that the oldest people I remember from my childhood were actually alive during the time of Abraham Lincoln!

    That doesn't mean that everything we remember is good, of course, or worthy of "nostalgia." I can also remember, when visiting the South as a teenager, seeing drinking fountains with White and Colored labels. My mother was not allowed to vote until she was in her 20's. My grandmothers probably never voted. People were dying of diseases that have been all but wiped out. Gay people remained in the closet their whole lives, or were shunned and ridiculed. People were miserable all summer without air conditioning. And so on; we can all add to the list.

    A great little book on this subject is "The Good Old Days - They Were Terrible!" by Otto L. Bettmann. It's a fun book to read, and should throw cold water on any fuzzy nostalgia we are giving in to.
    "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times".

    This thread reminds me of my favorite Jimmy Buffet tune:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGmERAWVdWM

  6. #6
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    For me nostalgia is bittersweet. I had the most wonderful childhood growing up in the 50's so when I think of all the good times I had and my parents and Grandparents who aren't here anymore it saddens me. On the other hand it comforts me also. When I pick up a vase to dust that was my Moms I remember where it was in my home growing up. When I reach for the old bowl that was my Grandma's I can see her using it in her kitchen. It's like a part of them is still with me.

  7. #7
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    I think we all have little places in our past where things were happy, safe, comfortable, successful, etc... and we all tend to spend a little time there as we get older. Like Ruth I use and treasure some of the items from my past because they evoke memories of the people who raised me and took care of me. Is nostalgia a good thing, for me it is.

  8. #8
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    As with most things, in moderation, I think nostalgia is a great thing. Of course, when one chooses to dwell on it for great lengths of time, then no, something's amiss.

  9. #9
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    I believe the question is why do you want to live in the past? What is it in the present, that makes you want to live in a previous time?

  10. #10
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    Yeah, I get a little nostalgic when I think about my childhood, especially when I check on my home town and see that it and my neighborhood are entirely different places now. But, that may be because I tend to remember the good things and forget the bad. Were they more innocent times? I doubt it. But, I was more innocent.

    There were no black people in my home town. That was due to a realtors' covenant. The only black person was the shoeshine man at the bus depot. So, no black people, no special drinking fountains, etc. As a kid it just seemed normal. I never thought to consider why. As far as knew, Black people just didn't want to live near us.

    There were Y clubs for teenagers. They could be a little rowdy, but you couldn't call them gangs. If there were gangs, I didn't know it. We were warned to stay away from the riverbed or the tramps would get us. I went there anyway and never saw a tramp.

    It was still rural enough that there were a few orange groves to play in and steal oranges. On cold winter nights you could smell the smudge pots. Incinerators were still allowed, and burning trash was another familiar smell.

    So, here I am feeling nostalgic. But, maybe what I'm nostalgic for is my youth, my friends, and my parents rather than the time and place.

    Don

  11. #11
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    No nostalgic for anything but my 20 y/o body.
    Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxx

  12. #12
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    According to this definition: A sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past.

    Nope. No nostalgia. Too many things to learn about and keep me busy with the present.

    However, I do enjoy a sense of history, like looking back at old pictures of things, the way they used to be, imagine how life was long before I was born. Old familiar landmarks, and how they've changed. I try to understand why they had to change. If I don't live there anymore, I don't get upset about it. It's not my business.

    Now, if the change were right next door, and happening tomorrow, I might get upset. Depends on what it is. Ha!

  13. #13
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    I think nostalgia can be fine in little bits, but too much of it tends to make me depressed, especially since most everybody who populates those fond memories is dead. Like April T said above, though, I sure wouldn't mind having my 20 year old body back! I'd even happily settle for my 40 year old body; hell, even my 50 year old body.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macfan View Post
    As with most things, in moderation, I think nostalgia is a great thing. Of course, when one chooses to dwell on it for great lengths of time, then no, something's amiss.
    The Spousal Equivalent's 94-year-old mother lives in the past, constantly mourning that things have changed. I can't say I blame her.....her present is pretty grim.
    If we're ever in a situation where I am "the voice of reason", then we are in a very, very bad situation.

  15. #15
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    Things happen all the time that bring memories of the past to me. Most of them are wonderful memories of all the good times I had growing up and all the family we had around us. The only really sad memories that come back is losing loved ones. Fortunately I have more good memories than bad.
    May you live as long as you wish and love as long as you live.

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