Tag Archives: Past

Editing Nostalgia


How do you make use of your past, I mean, your distant past whose wounds are long cauterised?

We merrily let ourselves stray to the (so-claimed) picture-perfect days of our distant past, only to dwell upon the deterioration of modern times. How many of you could solemnly assert that, in every sense your past outshines your present?

Some recent insights have gainsaid a few of my long-cherished convictions, the most striking one being those about my school life.

It’s true that my school used to obsess my thoughts as a green pasture. But ask me what I enjoyed there, and you find me groping for words. All I could dig up is hardly a handful of such jolly instances juxtaposed with a longer list of scathing or scary ones!

No resentment. No plans to pay back. Because if things went wrong for me they were merely the reflections of my attitude – years later I am mature enough to say so. Now looking at the educational system from a teacher’s standpoint, it is quite lucid why the abilities of timid students are rarely ferreted out and thereby go unsung, especially when they have no feathers of academic excellence to sport on their mortar boards. I was one of those few diffident lads later doomed to repeatedly chant “If I had been more …

Then why all the hoodwinking, while reality has always been plain as day?

This is how my conscience puts it across. “You feared getting stamped and sidelined as the black sheep when it is customary to exalt school life. The easy way out was to feign a happy teenager and keep on crooning: Oh, how I wish to be a school girl once again!”

  • Nostalgia is an emotional state in which an individual yearns for an idealized or sanitized version of an earlier time period.

That well expounds it. We idealize or sanitize our past. Communication experts term it Selective Retention. We retain only what makes us happy while we connive at the bitter ones. When the present turns grim, our conscience turns to the past for solace.

But what if both past and present are equally despicable? Patch up the past, and tag it ‘nostalgia’. If you can make yourself fanatically believe in your renovated past, you are nostalgically happy. Cool!

  • Nostalgia is excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition.

Nostalgia is the haven of the ‘excessively sentimental.’ Note that it is far from reality as it is just a yearning for something lost forever.

Even history has  repeatedly been subject to this sanitising process. So I can excuse myself, a ‘nobody’, for that fib about my school life.

What about the other places/persons in my nostalgia-list? Scrap them too?

Thank God I was not so ill-starred to go to that extent. I would rather accept my past with all its lapses, than laud them to utopian levels. We and our lives have never been perfect, so why should we strive to sanitize our past or feed ourselves on lies when that won’t, in the least, improve our present?

A wounded soul returning for revenge – that’s just fiction, I believe. The past won’t/can’t hurt forever.

Learn that nostalgia is a “sign of old age, extolling the past at the expense of the present” (Sydney Smith).

I am not old, and I have proved it. What about you?

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