Historical Nostalgia By David Reid Otey

Nostalgia: The old shows, the old comedy, staying up late for a trip to the past, to remember what was funny then and see if it is today, when it really doesn’t matter.  That’s what I thought, at first. But when talking about it with a friend I realized it does matter in the ways of ”seeing” history being made. Being able to watch the process and progress of thoughts and issues portrayed in simulated comedies and dramas.  We watch how ”the ways of the past” built up and progressed to become our ”ways of the present” which will someday join the box of ‘ways of the past’. An endless cycle because the types of thoughts, philosophies, beliefs and patterns used to create establishments, governments, businesses and cultural standards never cease to exist. They ”take turns”, having generations of people and  time to exist within.

The ”old stuff” really isn’t old. It is still current in showing us how we shape and how we change beliefs, thoughts and life patterns.  Our own personal histories  go through the same process, from something  simple and immediate ( like dropping a coin into a gumball machine, twisting the handle and collecting the gum ball ) to complex and consistent ( like crocheting a baby blanket ).  In the realms of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, change is the results of ideas worked in real life situations.

The issues of the past are still the issues of today, although they might have shifted from the top of the news list to a lower placement. The themes remain the same; love, life, death, joy, trials, community, etc.

High school plays are 90% nostalgia plays :classics from three or four generations past.  There is a series of birthday cards where you can buy one for the year you were born and see the list of the top songs, tv shows, inventions, news events, etc. Nostalgia is ‘recurring style’ in clothes fashions, music, building designs.  Recently I read that current country music is a “ripoff” of the 1970’s rock music. “Ripoff” should simply be called ‘recurring’ because the essence of an era cannot be copyrighted. Newness of anything is  limited because ”there is nothing new under the sun”, especially when you consider the length of time humans and ideas have existed so far.

More often throughout the past thirty or more years you will see a mixture of themes and styles from multi-eras borrowed and blended to appear like a new perspective, similar to the blend of peanut butter and grape jelly you can find in stores (as simplistic as that comparison might seem). This is good in a way because such combinations create enhanced perspective of each era through complimentary comparative connection, if that can be considered a reasonable, realistic or even possible term for style. Yet there is also a  danger that combining eras can also distort the ”real meaning” of an era’s phase in the history of what and how thoughts, beliefs and ideas came out of each other. Sometimes combinations would trivialize serious, meaningful lessons learned from very intense moments in history such as the Holocaust that impacted world cultures.

The past is always part of the foundation that current systems stand upon. The past should always be known and understood as much as possible, to prevent giving up any specific freedoms we may take for granted such as marrying whoever we want to from any culture or race, to prevent falling into a trap of agreeing to give up a standing of respect or opportunity that was fought for and earned by the lives of our ancestors such as civil rights. The past strengthens our lives, adding solidarity from other’s experiences that created wisdom we can add to our own lives. We can dream more, believe more and become more by complementing the past with our personal growth and with our supplemental contributions in life to reinforce the structure that bonds the progressions made so far.

There used to be an image of wisdom represented by a bearded wise man in a robe who lives on top of the highest mountain. Seekers of truth would climb that mountain to learn the truth of what they should do, should be, and which path they should follow in their lives. Wisdom is not one truth alone. Wisdom is combined truths because all knowledge is interrelated. There was a time in the past when many women could not vote, could not own their own properties, could not be leaders in government. In fact, the government made laws to prevent women from progressing. So the passion of freedoms ignited a long and very effective fight resulting in great changes for all future generations of women who will hopefully know and understand this part of history. There was a time in the past when slavery of one race was condoned, accepted and practiced, where one race of humankind was considered property to be bought or sold at will, to be treated however the owners wanted to treat them without that race having any protections under the laws of the land. In fact there were laws made against them, to keep them bound, enslaved and extremely limited in their lives. So, again, the passion of freedoms ignited a long and very effective fight resulting in great changes for all future generations of one race who will hopefully know and understand this part of history. The past is the place for reference to receive encouragement, wisdom, ideas and aid in supporting your own life dreams.

Let the past be strength for your progress instead of an escape from changes. Let the past be the voice of cheering you on to keep making life better for yourself and others, to become involved in the communities, instead of retiring into a bubble of “my times way back when” in seclusion of the life around you that came from those past moments. Let the past teach you rather than imprison you, empower you instead of coddle you. Honor your past by continuing the process of constant recreation by seeking or becoming a cause for someone or something. let your present become a memorable past for someone else to be empowered from. Create your life to a favored piece of nostalgia for your family and for your community, for your spirit and soul.   The End.