Nostalgia for the now

Kennedy Bustos, Managing Editor

Nostalgia — “pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again.” 

Upon near-death experiences, we often hear that our life flashes before our eyes. As we are forced to acknowledge the abrupt end of our time on Earth, memories rush to welcome us with open arms and heavy hearts — a piercing wave of nostalgia threatening to bring us to the depths of the unknown. As adrenaline floods through our veins, we instinctually contemplate our life experiences. Gratitude and regret wrestle for the wheel as “I should have” and “I wish” and “If only” and “I can’t believe” and “Why?” reverberate down to our bones.

Of course, death is far from the solitary bringer of nostalgia. Death is a manifestation of “the end,” and the end of any period of our life can instigate an intense introspection as we reminisce on the places we’ve been, the experiences we had, the people leaned on — the people we were. Joni Mitchell’s soul-crushing “Big Yellow Taxi” lyric  — “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” — still rings with deafening truth. 

It’s such a peculiar feeling to miss something while it’s still happening: an out-of-body experience as you witness your life in a third-person point of view. We mourn for our future selves, feeling the nostalgia while the memories are still being made. We’re numb from a wound yet to be inflicted; we’re feeling the ache of a void not yet empty. Time is sometimes a friend, yet more often an enemy: running ahead while we fumble in a foolish attempt to keep a steady pace, our hearts striving to keep a steady rhythm. 

Perhaps the months — and months and months — spent in quarantine forced us to shift our perspective, to shed the cynicism and cloak ourselves in romanticism. To cherish every moment — even the mundane — because tomorrow is never guaranteed. To soak up every second spent with the people we love, because any second could be our last. When you’ve been given a second chance at life, you’d be a fool not to cherish every moment. Every moment is a future memory, after all.