Chatting with Chapman: Getting lost in nostalgia

Chapman W.

Am I the only one who gets really giddy the first warm day of spring?

Everything around me — the smells, the sun on my face, the birds chirping — all remind me that summer is coming. It all reminds me of the carefree days of summer vacation in my youth, where I didn’t have to worry about anything except catching frogs in the pond near my house. It’s this feeling of nostalgia that fuels me through the second half of the spring semester, and it also gets me in trouble sometimes.

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I’m a huge sucker for nostalgia. For anyone who doesn’t know, nostalgia is the warm fuzzy feeling you get when you’re reminded of happy days in the past. The feeling can be triggered by plenty of different senses such as smells, sounds and even simple moments on their own. For many of us, there’s a desire to let nostalgia take us over and live in that moment forever. While this sounds nice at the time, there’s a danger of being lost in the feeling of nostalgia, and letting it keep you from living in the moment.

A while back, I read an article that described my generation as the “generation of nostalgia.” Because we saw this massive shift of technology during the early part of our life, we both remember a time where many aspects of life were analog and are still extremely tech-savvy. It’s this reason why hipsters are a thing, and it’s why companies releasing retro-fueled devices — such as Impossible’s new 600 format camera — is not all that surprising. Technology has changed so much over the last 20 years that by the time something became the norm, a whole new product was taking over the market. Many of us were so young that we only have fleeting memories of aspects of our childhoods, and thanks to the positive feelings associated with these memories, we’re constantly trying to re-experience these times when things were happier and more simple.

Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. It can fuel a desire to bring back the simpler ways of the past, and it can be much more comforting than new experiences. However, it can also be dangerous to get lost in the past. Often times, we remember the strong feelings of a long-gone event more than anything else, meaning that years after something happened to us, we really only care if it made us feel extremely happy or extremely unhappy. This begs the question of whether your experience was actually as simple and happy as you remember it, or if you’re simply viewing the past through rose-tinted glasses. 

The world changes constantly. People, places and feelings are ever-shifting, and it’s dangerous to ever try and recreate something from the past. While it’s nice to sit in the sun and enjoy memories of summers long gone, it’s better to make new memories than to try and revel in what once was. The happy moments spent with friends today will become the nostalgia fuel for the future. Reflecting on the past is great, but living in the present is actually living.

The smell of wood fire will always be my favorite. It reminds me of camping with my family, and it reminds me of the quiet peace of nature. So when I smell it next, instead of simply enjoying the smell and the memories it brings, maybe I’ll try and text some friends and plan another camping trip. I’m trying to live more in the moment, and I don’t think nostalgia is helping that at all.

Collegian Reporter and Columnist Chapman W. Croskell can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @Nescwick.