A Deadly Dose of Nostalgia

Recently I’ve been writing the first few pages of my first book. And it hurts.

IMG_0968

It hurts because it’s hard. It hurts because the things I write today often don’t read so well tomorrow. It hurts because most of the time it’s so overwhelming I can’t see straight. And it hurts because the subject matter I’m writing about sends me deep into the throws of nostalgia. The deadly kind.

The book I’m writing is about three women who attend West Point. And when I start thinking about West Point, traveling up there to do research, spending hours upon hours looking at photos of that place… it’s hard not to get lost in it all. Lost in the memories of middle school and high school—and then just kind of lost.

It got me thinking… when you start thinking back, does it prevent you from moving forward?

IMG_0919This is West Point. My once home.

Nostalgia is this gut-wrenching feeling of wanting to be back in a place you once were with people you once knew or in a time you once had. The dictionary says nostalgia is “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period of place with happy personal associations.” Right. So if nostalgia takes you to a happy place, why, so often, does it leave us in a state of utter depression?

I think it goes back to my thought life. Fostering a healthy thought life is the key to breaking the bonds of nostalgia. If I let my mind dwell in the past – my brain can conjure up memories (true and false) that can taint my enjoyment of the present.

Whatever is true. What is true is that I live in Nashville—the greatest city in the world with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met and some of the closest friends I’ve ever had.

Whatever is noble. What is noble is that I’m trying my hardest to live in the gifts I believe I’ve been given, to the glory of God, for better or worse.

Whatever is right. Whatever is pure. What’s right and pure is knowing the ways God has blessed me here and now, today.

Whatever is lovely. What is lovely is looking in the mirror and feeling content with who I am now.

Whatever is admirable. What is admirable are the ways other people in my life are living for today and giving their lives away to others.

If anything is excellent or praiseworthy.  Think about such things. 

Philippians 4:8. 

Lord, help me. This hurts.

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Author: Claire

Hi I'm Claire. I am a freelance writer, Vizlsa lover, and avid runner who lives in Nashville, TN. Nice to meet you.

9 thoughts

  1. i get it….i do it, too….i try to use the memories as a springboard of prayer and praise…thanking God for the opportunities i’ve had, the people i;ve had the privilege to meet, and the wonderful places and different cultures where i learned how to live life well. opportunities, privileges, people, and places don’t end. they continue to unfold. we be in each moment!!!

  2. As I approach my youngest daughter’s senior year in high school and that impending, dreaded moment of her moving out, I find that I have a hard time looking at photos of her and her big sister when they were little. I realized the other day that I have thought of that ever dreaded moment when they will both be gone, almost every day for 4 years now. I have lost a lot of happy moments tearing up whenever I thought of it. Sometimes, those moments would even happen when we were having such a good time that I never wanted it to end! What a waste! Nostalgia. Hmmm.

    1. Wow. Thank you for sharing, Laura. I can only imagine the thoughts of nostalgia that come when you have little ones. Lord knows I’m not ready for that!

  3. Once again, amazing..were you writing at the Frothy Monkey? The Peach Truck is always at Frothy Monkey. I have that nostalgic feeling about Austin; so does Olivia. It’s amazing it was only for 3 years but I have never had that feeling ever to a place that I have lived. Love your post, sweet girl. Let’s do lunch and I MEAN IT..I am out for summer..so let’s make plans.

  4. wow, this hits home. life right now feels very ‘stuck’ and I’m finding that nostalgia doesn’t do a whole lot other than make me weepy and sorry for myself. the worst part is that it completely blinds me of God’s blessing and grace in this moment.
    thank you dearly for this post. I can’t even put words to how perfectly timed it is.

  5. Dear Claire, I so love reading your blog posts. You always provide important thoughts to ponder. As one who has a much longer “thought life” than you, I understand the bonds of nostalgia and so appreciate your words about this. The verse from Philippians does provide answers for us.
    Thanks again for all your writing, I look forward to reading each one.
    Gretchen Thiele

    1. thank you so much Gretchen. So thankful for your sweet family (especially the branch in Nashville!). It is a little scary that this battle with nostalgia will only get more difficult as my “thought life” extends with years – but perhaps it gets easier, too, with wisdom and practice. Thanks for reading… that’s so humbling!

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