Nostalgia – noun – a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past that seems much better or simpler than now
We are all guilty of nostalgia. We all do it, whether consciously or unconsciously. Its most accurate antonym is probably regrets. And most of us are guilty of having regrets.
Regrets – noun – worries over past action, or essentially bad memories of past actions.
Both are tied to the past, nostalgia being something we yearn for and regrets being something we wish to bury and move on from. The main difference is that nostalgia doesn’t concern primarily actions, whereas regrets do.
The way to overcome good or bad yearning for the past is to focus on the present moment. The past may have shaped where we are now but it shouldn’t define what we do next.
I started on this post by listening to Bowie’s superb Aladdin Sane album. It caught my eye as I was scrolling through my albums and I was compelled to play it, and was immediately filled with joyous memories. It was the first album I bought. I even remember when I first heard it. I was 12 years old and staying with the family of my best friend from primary school. They had just moved from my hometown of Gatley (a village on the border of Stockport & Manchester) to Chigwell in Essex and had invited me to stay for a fortnight over the summer holidays.
I had a wonderful time. My friend Daniel and his family had a fabulous new build town house. (I would return there several times during my teens). They were lovely and welcoming people. Daniel’s older brother Stuart was a car salesman. He was a few years older, obviously. And it was Stuart that introduced me to David Bowie’s music through this album. Just listening to it reminds me of more innocent times that I have nothing but fond memories of. That particular holiday left an indelible print on my mind. We packed a lot in to those two weeks. We did touristy things in London; hung out with Daniel’s friends; had traditional Jewish Friday night dinner; visited Petticoat Lane market; ate bagels on Brick Lane and got intimidated on the boating lake at Alexandra Palace. I also stood on The Clock End at Highbury with Daniel and his Dad (Sid), and watched Sid’s beloved Arsenal batter Chelsea. I was then, as I still am today, a Manchester City Fan. But that was irrelevant that day. I loved being in that crowd. The emotions and passions of thousands of people, all directed by the players and what was happening on the pitch. The sheer elation of goals scored for your team (I was Arsenal for the day), the despair of goals against (there actually weren’t any that day by the way, but if you follow a team you will understand) and the camaraderie amongst family, friends and strangers all with something in common. Like a play needs an audience, professional football is meaningless without the crowd.
I won’t be alone with this viewpoint, but music evokes both nostalgia and regrets. I prefer the nostalgia. Aladdin Sane reminds me of how simple life can be. It reminds me that the joy of the moment has to be appreciated and savoured. The pain of regrets needs to be respected in order to not repeat the actions that led to them. But the reality is the present moment cannot change the past nor should it dictate your future.
Regrets, I’ve had far more than a few. Even though nostalgia is better for my health, I live in the present as I still have so much more to do with my life. I have to remind myself of that a lot.
My rather cumbersome motto for today is, it is safer to drive with your eyes fixed on the road ahead interspersed with glances in the rear view mirror, not the other way around.
So whilst I was taking this trip down memory lane, Aladdin Sane has ended and Spotify Radio has taken over the playlist – more Bowie, Lou Reed, The Kinks, The Jam, Nick Cave, Kate Bush, Nick Drake, Patti Smith, The Cure and plenty more fills my lounge whilst I write and edit photographs. These are the results of my latest artwork. Flowers, buds, leaves and snails – all edited in the moment. I’ve also included some from a couple of days ago, as I like them.