My sister and brother-in-law came to visit yesterday (yay!), and we sat down and broke bread together, as people do. Side note, tried two new Oreo flavors, the mint thin and the filled cupcake, and they were so much yes.
For what it’s worth.
But I digress.
So, while we ate, we had some background music playing. They’re super into Twenty One Pilots right now, so we listened to several of their songs, and I noticed a bit of a theme in the lyrics. More than once, the topic of regret and wanting to go back to a simpler time came up. Specifically, in their song “Stressed Out” –
Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.
I heard another of their songs on Alt Nation today, and it, too, mentioned a longing for the past. I do my best thinking in the car and in the shower, so I started turning that over in my mind.
For about a minute.
Because, here’s the thing, I don’t want to go back in time. I don’t want to be a kid again. Not even a little.
See, I think what happens is that we tend to repress the bad and highlight the good parts of the past, and that’s where nostalgia is born. I’m guilty of it myself. For example, being around my boyfriend’s young children, I find myself missing the time that my son was that age. These moments are fleeting and bittersweet, but I don’t want to actually RETURN to the time when he was that age. God, no. I had zero job security. My hours changed on the whim of the company’s CFO. Little Debbie was my closest friend and confidante. And I stressed out a lot about working too much and not spending enough quality time with Hunter.
But that’s not what my mind sends me in those fleeting and bittersweet moments. It sends a little picture, filtered in a gauzy, golden glow, of Hunter and I holding hands and spinning in a circle, the backdrop a field of wildflowers and manicured grass, while butterflies lazily fly above us. We’re laughing. We are not dizzy from the spinning.
I mean, what? It makes zero damn sense. Hunter has severe allergies. What field has manicured grass AND wildflowers? Who doesn’t get dizzy after spinning in circles?
And that’s nostalgia – remembering things in the best possible light.
The same goes for youth in general. I remember being a teenager. I wish I didn’t, but I do, so there you go. I had terrible, severely teased hair. I had braces. I was, for lack of a better word, stout. I bit my nails. I still had fun with my friends, but every day was angst- and anxiety-ridden, and I basically hated it.
There were many, many good times, don’t get me wrong. I definitely had my share. But to go back to that? Uh, no thanks.
The bottom line, though? I wouldn’t change any of my past choices, because they all taught me something. Maybe not in the way I WANTED, but, for better or worse, I learned from them. It’s been a good life, for sure…but I wouldn’t trade the age I am now for anything.
Turning 40 kicked off the best time of my life. I finally know who I am. I finally know (more or less) where I’m going (metaphorically, not literally, because damn, it’s hard sometimes being directionally-challenged while living in a new location). I’m thrilled to be living where I am, working for the company that I do, and sharing life with somebody whose beliefs align with mine so well. I used to think, well, you can’t have it all. You can be happy with your kid, OR your job, OR your general health. On good days, maybe you even get two out of three. But now, I’m very satisfied with things as a whole, and I recognize that it’s based on not assigning too much importance to anything. I learned the hard way that the only thing we can control is ourselves. And, right after I learned THAT, I learned that controlling myself is a full-time job in and of itself.
I mean, there aren’t enough hours in the DAY, people. You have no idea. It’s a wonder I can focus at all. Like, right now I have about 12 tabs open on my computer screen, and roughly three times that open in my brain. Each one represents a project I am not going to complete if I don’t start to focus. But I get scattered. And I’m always, ALWAYS, thinking about the next meal or snack or recipe that will result in a meal or snack. And who can think about responsible adult stuff when you don’t even know what you’re going to eat next?
You know, as I read the above paragraph, it occurs to me that I may not have my shit together after all. So maybe read this with a grain of salt (Himalayan pink, if you can pull it off – look it up). And then grab another grain of salt and reflect on nostalgia, and what it really is. Not that it’s bad. Who doesn’t want to frolic in manicured grass and wildflowers and butterflies without fear of dizziness or allergies? I mean, sign me up.
I’m gonna add that to my tab list and research it. In a minute. After lunch.
I mean, 1987 was pretty rockin’, though. Obviously.