I was reminded yesterday how safe it can feel to revisit the past, at least positive aspects of it. I saw Jurassic Park, and I immediately felt young again, though I was able to follow the story line and dialogue much better with age. I just felt a bubble surrounding me, I totally forgot everything else in my life, it was a very refreshing escape. Even though I also enjoyed watching it when I was a kid, why was it so much more refreshing to watch it this time around?
Looking into the past seems to have a calming effect. Whenever I am in pain, it feels like I will never be the same again, I don’t see a future past my current pain. When I’m not in pain, I’m usually just neutral. However, when I look into the past, I seem to inject a lot of emotion into it. I’m either nostalgic from good experiences in my past, or I’m traumatized by my past pain.
Not to say the present is always bad, it can be invigorating, exciting, unpredictable. The present is best when it is spontaneous, there is an element of thrill in experiencing something new. Not knowing what to expect can at times be exhausting, though. The past is reinforced through time; so good memories become even better each time they are revisited, and negative memories can become more traumatizing if not resolved somehow. Even though negative experiences can’t be changed, I can accept the fact that I’m now a better person because of it, it was painful but its resolved at least, and it is behind me.The present is devoid of any reinforcement, that’s why it can feel so exciting instead of comforting.
So nostalgia can feel comforting because it has been reinforced several times as a good memory, my neural pathways are deeply carved towards those memories so it takes no effort at all, sometimes it can feel good to get an effortless embrace.
I think that’s part of the reason why its so comforting to be with a close relative or long-time friend, you can be reminded of the past. You can transfer into a younger version of yourself.
Basically, the past brings effortless comfort and safety. While the present requires engagement, it can be exciting, and can be an opportunity to make new memories. It comes down to either comfort or excitement. I firmly believe new experiences should be accepted at every opportunity, while only seeking comfort in the past when necessary. What’s the point of living right now if you’re wishing you were in the past? Why not appreciate the past, including the people from it, and make the most of right now?