Why nostalgia is bad for you

My demo from yesterday afternoon's Watercolor Pencil class.
After Fairfield Porter's Rosa Rugosa.

"Nostalgia is a seductive liar."

—George Ball

***

Why nostalgia is bad for you

Nostalgia is old

It drags you out of the present moment and throws you into a quicksand of the past.
I recently suffered a severe bout of nostalgia and it was not fun. Then I discovered that I'd inadvertently deleted seven years of photos on my computer. Then I found that the painting image I intended to use for this post was lost in a hard drive crash a few years ago. What little time I had to write this post evaporated in the search for old images.

**
Because I received several emails and other direct communications in defense of nostalgia after writing this initial post, I feel compelled to define my terms.

Although it has now come to signify fondness for things, places, people of the past, it actually means "acute homesickness." The Greek roots of the word are nostos 'return home' + algos 'pain'.

As a child at camp, for example, I had no natural defense against nostalgia. As an adult, however, I have a choice to mitigate acute homesickness with every trick I can think of to bring me into the present moment.
**
Nostalgia really is a disease. Here's my favorite description:
XL
Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
—A. E. Houseman, A Shropshire Lad
***

So here's what I've decided.

I'm letting go of the past with all the love and blessings I have in me. Good timing, too. Today is the new moon! I'm setting my intentions for happy new pursuits and loving every moment.
Here's to good mental health and living life in present tense.
                                 ***

"Nostalgia is when you want things to stay the same. I know so many people staying in the same place."

Jeanne Moreau


2 comments:

joshemari said...

Suzane, no pienso que la nostalgia sea mala. Todos vivimos con algo de esa nostalgia del pasado y no veo que sea malo. Claro, que tambiƩn puede ser triste... pero hay que apartar los recuerdos tristes y solamente recordar los buenos momentos pasados, con cierta nostalgia.
Tus dibujos y reflexiones son muy buenos.
Un beso.

Suzanne McDermott said...

Joshemari,

I was in too much of a rush and did not take the time to define my terms. Although it has now come to signify fondness for things, places, people of the past, it actually means "acute homesickness." The Greek roots of the word are nostos 'return home' + algos 'pain'.
Much love to you, as always.