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Musing #18: Memory and Nostalgia

As someone raised through the 90s with Walkmans, Mix Tapes, 8 & 16-bit consoles, VHS tapes and the rise of the WWW; the nostalgia is always far too strong. It provides welcome relief when the mind decides to stray from the humdrum of every day life. Hence, it is not a surprise to see serials, movies, games, music trying to milk this in a big way and let’s be honest, there is no guilt in getting milked. It is for nothing then that nostalgia is said to be opium for the masses (I am sure Karl Marx wouldn’t object to this subterfuge).

While I initially wanted to delve on nostalgia, my thoughts have since strayed on to the subject of memories itself. Nostalgia to me is simply a product of memories which puts forth the question of whether life itself is all about memories. Just think of it for a moment, every pleasurable and recollectable activity has the sole purpose of creating memories that we can reminiscence about. While the experience wears off with the snap of the fingers, the memories live on through photos and videos. This establishes the chain of posterity that strings generations together. As much as one lives a moment, the ultimate goal is to relive it for self and others.

This may be too simple a way of defining life but still not a difficult tenet to live by. The beauty of it all is that the quality of the memories truly lie in the mind of the beholder. One may argue that this quality doesn’t exist and is nothing more than a product of rose-tinted glasses, but that may be digressing from the topic. Memories and by consequence nostalgia may exercise a function no different from opium in attaining a higher sense of euphoria but while opium may be the same for everyone, memories truly aren’t.

The harmful effect of this “drug” is that you end up living in the past and of not being able to just let go. However, that again would just be a generalization for it really comes down to how you utilize it. Brooding over may not be a great idea but to recall it for a brief moment of elation ought not to scorned. I have somehow ended up defending nostalgia when in fact it was a spontaneous outpour of my thoughts at having just experienced it. I am not one to complain about something that brings a smile to my face and makes me look at the passing world in pictures of emotions.

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