Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Visiting old haunts

Sometimes I get the urge to relive certain moments of my life. There are very few and far in between moments I'd like to revisit but, those moments are, as the young ones call it,  epic. I have recently noticed that with age I revisit these moments more and more and always with a bit of nostalgia. This has lead me to the question, " What is it about the past that we hold on to?"

Remember your old uncle or even grandpa talking about the good old days. The days when people knew how to act, had proper values etc. It is always brightest on that side of the memory storeroom. Life is so much more joyful but is it really? Are our memory banks corrupted and thus coloring our perception of life? My theory is that if you were taken back to that moment you wouldn't enjoy yourself as much as you claim. That if we were to question observers of your life then, they wouldn't remember the appreciative smirk on your face as you got drunk for the first time, snuck into a club with a fake ID or even set fire to a building just to get back at the mean land lord who evicted you!

No, they would talk about how you cursed those moments and wished them gone from your life. So, what is it about them that makes you appreciate them decades down the road? Perhaps its the comparison between the past and the present. The present that seems complicated and unsure versus the past that is tried and true. Psychologically are we losing ourselves in what had been, minus the bad parts? Does this make life much more bearable in the present.

Throughout history masses of people have had atrocities committed to them and if collectively asked about the time before the evil befell them, they are quick to point out the beauty, happiness and peace they used to experience. Sometimes when I listen to my parents and grandparents talk about Somalia, I hear this nostalgic pull. Do they really believe life was much better during the era of Siyad Barre or even pre-Siyad Barre? See I wouldn't know because all I have to go off is their recollection and at times I am not sure I can trust their minds.

So I pose a question, should we trust our nostalgic memory that is a reconstruct of what really happened?

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