This piece is written in response to my previous entry The Nightmare of Knowing.
Nostalgia is a poison to the human soul. It allows us to conveniently forget the negative while celebrating the positive in exaggerated fashion. It is the perfect lie. Within five minutes of posting The Nightmare of Knowing, I knew that I had taken things too far. I had lied to myself and the game was up.
Over the past few years I have done a lot of reflecting on my childhood. It was a good childhood, with the perks of middle class living included. Life wasn’t perfect growing up, as I’m sure every single one of you reading will understand. When all of this reflection started a few years ago I was going through a rough patch in life. I had moved cross country, chased a dream, proposed and then lost a fiancée. I had taken to hard drinking and solitary times to cope. This was the negative lens which I looked back upon my formative years.
In the years since I have picked up the pieces and moved on. My life is great now. I will marry my love of my life in a couple of weeks. We have a lovely set of pets at home that make our family complete. While I have for the most part moved forward with my life I have been guilty of continuing to look back upon my childhood through the negative lens I’ve stopped living through otherwise long ago. I didn’t even realize this until today.
One day at work about three years ago, waist deep in self loathing, a colleague and close friend called me an old soul for preferring physical books to digital and for avoiding Twitter. I spun that phrase in to the inner workings of my being and ran with it. Being called an old soul (which in some ways I definitely am) gave me a sense of identity. I prided myself on being an old soul and all the”good” that it meant. I read articles about old souls, became nostalgic for an era that can’t have been as good as books and films make it out to be. I was living a fantasy. I became cynical about new media, technology, modern living, etc. and refused to grow as a human being. I had isolated myself in my own vacuum of existence and didn’t even recognize it.
I think it was around 2011-2012 when I had stopped living the life in front of me. For the next four to five years, time had stopped. I was fascinated with this time frame, and refused to acknowledge that the clock hadn’t stopped. I continued to be enamored with music and electronics from that era, and eschewed the modern conveniences beyond that point in time. Looking back, it doesn’t even make sense!
The nostalgic life that I had been living wasn’t sustainable. Another lesson that I have learned this afternoon. I had been lying to myself at an alarming rate, and had convinced myself that the nightmare I was living was a sort of dystopian existence. The real nightmare was that I had so thoroughly convinced myself that I could create my own void to live within. I have done many loved ones a disservice over the last few years by continuing to look at them through a lens that should have expired years ago. This lens has extended to other groups and thoughts, and it will take a lot of self reflection to work past it. Let the healing begin.