It is 1:23 a.m. on the day this article was due. Procrastinating from writing, I decided to clean out my voicemail box.
I hit the button to listen to the first voicemail, trying hard to remember just how far back these voicemails went.
The first sound I hear from the very first voicemail is a voice I will never hear again; my little brother, who no longer sounds quite so young and squeaky.
It is a voicemail I saved from the Fourth of July, about three or four years back.
He called me to say hello, and to tell me what he and my mom were doing that day; they were looking for a fireworks show and wanted to make sure I was doing okay.
I decided to save it on a whim, and replayed it on the nights that I missed them. I cherished it for the love and sense of home it brought me, feeling their presence even from miles away.
Years later, I cherish it for a different reason: It gives me a glimpse into a time with my brother I can never get back, and the nostalgia that the voicemail brings me is something that cannot be recreated.
Nostalgia is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again.”
Nostalgia, as with most things associated with Generation Y, is seen as a wasted emotion, a hindrance that only belongs in the romanticized and unrealistic world of the young.
It is described as pointless, since you are indeed wishing to experience a moment in time that is long gone, and you know for a fact you cannot get that time back.
Nostalgia in large doses can be unhealthy. It can be depressive, making you wish for things that are long gone and stealing your consciousness from where it belongs: in the present.
However, being nostalgic is also about pleasure. While I was reflecting on time gone by, I remembered the good things, about how happy we were then and how great that summer was for me.
Nostalgia also has a unique way in framing our future by showing us our past.
My reflection on my brothers’ lives, and my own life, made me realize just how much change we have gone through.
It gives you the gift of understanding what has passed, and it gives the secondary gift of realizing that the best is still to come, and that only a future you will fully understand is being built in this time now.
Nostalgia allows you to feel all moments simultaneously, to feel joy and sadness mixed in a perfect cocktail of good energy that will shoot you into your potential and allow you to harness the energy of the past.
It is an amazing emotion to have, so if our generation is the best at it, then I will take it.
So as I sit here, realizing that the past has also given me the gift of breaking my writer’s block, I realize just what a treasure all of these voicemails have become.
I will not delete them until I have them all saved, because losing them means both losing my past as well as losing a lens into my future, taking away the possibilities of lessons I could learn down the road, from who I was to who I have become.
It also reminds me that I have not called my brother in some time to tell him I love him. And if that is all nostalgia could have given me today, I would say it was still worth saving that message.