Sucker for Eighties Nostalgia
I can be a real sucker for nostalgia. I’m in my forties now so maybe my frequent trips down memory lane are normal. I have so many wonderful things happening in my life right now, but it only takes a few bars of a song from the eighties to whisk me right back to that time. What great days they were – far better than anything we have now. It never seemed to rain back then and when it did rain there was a romantic feel to it. This is all wistful nonsense of course. I come from Ireland and I don’t have to investigate the meteorological archives to know that the weather was miserable for 99% of my childhood.
Nostalgia and the Deceit of Memory
Memory can be a fickle fecker. It has this disturbing ability to make the past appear far better than it ever was. If I’m not careful it can have me believing all sorts of rubbish. I’m not just talking about the tricks that memory plays in regard to the distant past either. After a few days a completely average day trip in the car with my wife and son can be remembered as the stuff of legend. One of the benefits of journaling is that it provides written proof of this mental deceit.
The fact that my memory can be so liberal with the truth about something that happened just a week ago makes me even more cautious about memories from the eighties. So when a Madness song comes on the internet radio I need to question the warm melancholy feeling that begins in my stomach. Instead of embracing this tune as a symbol of my generation, and hop skipping around my office, I have to remind myself that I once disliked Madness intensely and openly mocked other kids who did like them. I wouldn’t have accepted one of their records as a free gift. This is because for much of the eighties I had a deep nostalgia for music from the decade before my birth. I even tried to dress like a Teddy Boy (obviously within the limits of our school’s strict uniform policy).
Nostalgia definitely brings benefits. I spent two decades of my life numbed to my feelings because of alcohol abuse. One of the joys of being sober is that I’ve got my feeling back. Nostalgia comes packed with a strange type of sadness – it has a certain sweetness to it. There is just something so enticing about wallowing in memories of my younger years. I once thought that nostalgia only appealed to people that have a miserable life, but that is not the case with me. I know that my life now is better than anything that went before, but I still miss the past. Of course one of the reasons for this is that back then some of the people that I love were still alive.
Occasional nostalgia can make life sweeter, but there are dangers for me if I overindulge. There is so much that is happening right now and now is all I have. My son is growing up fast, and I don’t want to miss any of it. I know that in the future I will be looking back on the 10s as the best period in my life only then I’ll probably be right. I also believe that one of the secrets of a long life is staying engaged with the present. I’m not sure if any research has been done on this, but I sometimes suspect that nostalgia might kill us. I’m not looking to stay around for that long a life – if I make it to my seventies I’ll be satisfied. I just want to see my son grow up and get settled into adulthood.
BTW – I would be so grateful if people would ‘like’ the Facebook Page for my new book Muay Thai Fighter which is due for release soon.