“Nostalgia is a seductive liar.” – George Ball
It’s been my experience thus far, that some of the most unhappy people live nostalgically. Nothing wrong with visiting, but many among us try to live there. They remember and talk of the past as if it was some magical place; a half-smile with a distant stare. Meanwhile, they’re missing the Now, where life is happening.
Seeing things nostalgically thirty or so years after the fact, can look like a Hollywood movie. The problem is that our mind remembers not so much what, but how it wants to remember. The past isn’t real. Not now. It was, when it was Now, but now it’s just a memory. We filter out the circumstances that were in play at that time, including our own motivations, thought process, values, beliefs, psychology, relationships, and a million other things, including all the bad parts.
Billy Joel is singing, “The good ole days weren’t always good and the future ain’t as bad as it seems.”
The popular story-line lately, about how people on their death bed regret, not so much the things they did, but the things they didn’t do. Like it’s supposed to be motivational, right? Inspiring? As if, by hearing these stories, we’ll quit our job, sell our shit, and tour the world with a backpack.
But, we don’t. Why? Because for 99% of us, it doesn’t make any fucking sense. It may sound romantic, but it’s not really what we want, nor need. So, we don’t do it.
Because what happens? What; one day we’re on our deathbed regretting what we didn’t do and say to some young soul, “My biggest regret is that I didn’t leave society to homestead in northern Alaska”? “I didn’t quit that six figure job to volunteer in a third-world country.” “I never bought that Ferrari.” Okay, that’s a bad example. You really should have bought that Ferrari. What’s a matter with you?! Life is short!
Nostalgia can suck, but so does regret. So … we didn’t do that thing, even though we thought we wanted to at the time and now, we regret it. No. We didn’t do it for all the reasons we didn’t and never did and that is that. Remember?
How about this: Santosha, the Niyama of contentment. It’s not about how things should be or shouldn’t have been. It’s about how things are and complete acceptance of our truth as it is here, in the now. Once we acknowledge that, it’s up to us to figure out what we’re going to do or not and then do it. Or not. No regrets.
I’m in love with the idea of climbing Mount Everest. These men and women; the Sherpas, the stories, the TV shows and movies. It’s such an amazing thing, I can see myself doing that. I’m not doing that. I’m not, because from what I understand, it’s a bit chilly there and I could lose my fingers, lose $100,000 and/or die. At the most basic level it would be quite selfish and irresponsible. I don’t need something like that to feel good about being human; to feel … complete. I will never regret not climbing Everest. I am content with that.
I’m content with most things. Some things I’m not and that’s on me. Perfectly normal, by the way. So I’m content with some of my discontent. Something to work on.
And … until I buy that Ferrari, I’m content with browsing and the process of the journey.