Jan 17, 2018 / Life
What is it about a slow morning on the last day of the year that brings out my sentimental side? Why is it a warm fire at Christmas time makes us think back on the holidays “as they used to be”? What causes such deep thoughts in an otherwise unimportant moment of life?
Maybe we don’t all experience these moments…maybe for some they’re so fleeting that they don’t even register on the radar of our thoughts. For me, these moments happen often. It’s who I am. I’m a deep thinking, deep feeling, deep talking, emotional guy.
Each of us carries unique personality traits that make us who we are and one of mine happens to be my melancholy thought patterns. In my quest to understand and explain everything that goes on in my brain I came across a word that’s peeked my interest.
a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.
I come from a family of nostalgics…everything is a tradition!
Every Christmas Eve at dinner Santa mysteriously shows up at the front door with pajamas for everyone while my Dad’s out of the dining room. Even when we’re all grown…Santa still comes.
Every Thanksgiving we all sit at one big table together even if this means spreading 6 folding tables end-to-end on the front porch in freezing temperatures.
Every fall a group of my siblings take a trip to Savannah to spend some time bonding without all the kids around so that we can grow our friendships.
Every April my brothers and I celebrate Masters week with the Scheidt Invitational Open (complete with a trophy, green jacket, and a whole lot of trash-talking).
We’re nostalgic people in the Scheidt clan.
In my vast expertise in ancient Greek…well really in my googling of the word “nostalgia”, I saw that the word comes from two Greek words; nostos meaning “return home” and algos meaning “pain”. In German, the word is translated “homesickness”.
So what is it about these moments that cause me to reminisce, to return home, to feel the pain? Why do I long for the past when I truly love the present and how things are now? What is the wiring in me that draws me back to “the good ‘ole days” and “how it used to be” and “when I was little”?
For me, this nostalgia has always left me feeling like something was missing. I’ve felt a lot more of the pain side of that word than the returning home part. More recently as I’ve begun to develop my own adult life, my own traditions, my own family, I’ve been confused by nostalgia. Why do I long for something of the past when my present contains all the things I want?
I believe that one of the reasons nostalgia hits me so hard is that I glorify the past. The future is something unknown and the present holds….well…everything in the present (financial stress, work, worries, tiredness…) I look at the past with rose-colored glasses because it seemed easier back then. I forget that the pressures I face now were still present then. All I remember is the snapshots in my head like scenes from Norman Rockwell paintings. Really, the past wasn’t always as great as I remember it.
As I’ve mulled over this word “nostalgia” I think there’s a deeper sense of longing that we all feel. I think there’s a part of each of us that’s homesick for our home…our real home. Maybe part of the human experience involves a pain, a sickness, a longing for the ability to return home. We were all created for eternity so it only makes sense that we would struggle to be satisfied in a non-eternal existence.
If all this is true it’s both comforting and unsettling. It’s difficult to imagine a lifetime where I always feel pain, where I never truly feel “at home”, and where I am constantly longing for something better. On the other hand, it’s comforting to know that those longings may just be the fingerprints of God on my heart. Maybe the reason I feel longing is because I’m longing for Him and longing for a relationship and peace that will only fully be realized in my eternal home.
Nostalgia is never going away for me. But the longings I feel can bring hope. There is a perfect home waiting for me. The happiness and joy that I long for can be experienced. There is so much ahead that will be amazing!
I heard a quote recently that drives this point home. (it’s not a direct quote but it’s along these lines…)
“The more you’re looking forward to the next world, the less you need from this world.”
– Levi Lusko
Instead of always looking back in these nostalgic moments, I’m going to start looking forward.