Sentiments and Nostalgia

In today’s fast-paced rat race society, it feels like society is split into two groups. Those who are sentimental and those who are not. One group loves to live in memories and cherishes those that they create, while the other group finds that living in such a state of euphoria and nostalgia is nothing more than a waste of time, time that could be better spent to move forward. It’s rather distressing to see that in our attempts to move forward and keep looking to the past, we have actually chosen to forsake the sentimental value of our lives. My question is, why?

Is being nostalgic truly such a detriment to oneself and that we should not live in the memories of the past, but go out and create new ones? I’ve seen and felt the apathy of my friends with regards to sentimental values that it has honestly perturbed me, and it has always flummoxed me. Case in point, I had friends who wanted to skip our school graduation service because it was “a waste of time”. Is it really a waste of time? Is it a waste of time to sit down, reflect on the past two years of JC life and enjoy the merry and mirthful performances and segments by our teachers? I understand that we have a major exam in about a month or so, but does the sentimental value of our memories and experiences in our school really mean so little to us that we would rather stay at home to study?

If it’s not obvious by now, I am a very sentimental and emotional individual. I absolutely adore taking photographs with friends and family to capture those few magical moments for keepsake. I always appreciate the thoughts of others, even though the outcome may not be exactly what I wanted. Most importantly, I love and treasure those who make an effort to interact and socialise with me, especially when I’m feeling down and out and simply am not in the mood for socialising. The week before graduation service, I fantasized about the photos and videos my class and I would be taking after the ceremony was over. The hilarious, over-the-top pictorial mementos that I would keep forever, oh I just couldn’t contain my excitement. Well, things didn’t go according to what I had imagined it would be. After the service, everybody just … went home. No class outings, no photos and most importantly, no memories. Just everyone going back home as though regular school just ended. I was devastated, because it made me realise that in a class of 19 students, I was the only one who thought being sentimental was worth it.

While I detest this notion that being sentimental and capturing nostalgia is something negative, it’s not hard to see why. It has been considered a disorder in the late 17th century, where soldiers longing to return to their homes. Others simply thought that being nostalgic was a symptom of depression: why else would anyone want to live in the past? But the fact is simple: It wasn’t a disorder in the past, and it sure as hell ain’t a disorder right now.

It is undeniable that we ought to have the foresight to plan ahead, and not get trapped in the past. However, if we can’t even take the time to stop and smell the roses, how are we able to truly appreciate the progress we want to and will make? If we refuse to stop and enjoy the treasures of our past, what’s to say that we will with our future progress? We’d simply be living life in an anxious rush, always fretting over the future, and not being able to slow down and live in the moment. So do yourself a favour, and slow down once in a while. Cherish the moments of the past, and enjoy capturing the nostalgic value of your past, while remembering not to get trapped in it.