Nostalgia, it’s a hell of a drug

Whose that pokemon?

Its Snorlax!

Man, this dude has it figured out. I wish I could sleep like this guy. He’s got the work/life balance down.

Shame, I’m more Electrode. Self-destructing.

Don’t worry, for those who missed out or couldn’t care less, this post isn’t all about Pokemon.

It’s about nostalgia. A celebration of childhood, yesterday, and all that was. I grew up with one ambition, utterly determined. An internal dialogue which intertwined my psyche;

I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was.

Sorry, that was an in joke. Last Pokemon reference, I swear (no I don’t). If you did get it, however, just to let you know, I appreciate you. We are kin.

Im a millennial – I just scraped in on that hype. I was a 90’s kid. I have the credentials. I remember the millennium, so, that’s something. I remember it not meaning a whole heap of much, that’s something else… 00’s were where things got real naughty.

In many of my dreams recently, I’ve been a kid, in school, running through the playground, surrounded by people from my childhood.

They say your dreams have hidden meanings.

If so, they should hide better.

I can take a wild guess what it means – I’m scared of getting old! That, and I feel deeply connected to the past. It’s sacred, it’s complete, concrete – untouchable, by my hands or yours.

Those memories are like an enchanting rose garden, hidden behind a burly brick wall. I just want to play in it so much. Roll in the lush green grass, smell the intoxicating aroma of youth. I can’t, I can only peek over the top of the wall, clinging to it, but the ledge has been greased.

I’ve hung on for so long, I can feel my fingers slipping now.

It’s time to wake up.

What is it about nostalgia that is so powerful? We love it. There’s a tinge of sadness, a twang of happiness, a wistful longing, and a profound warmth in it.

It’s even said to actually make you feel warmer on cold days.

We’re so good at loving it too. I feel nostalgic about decades I never experienced. Man, people were living in the future during the 80’s. I had lots of older cousins. I guess they dragged the paraphernalia into my era. Pop culture does ultimately transcend the decade of its incarnation – it becomes part of the narrative of our lives.

But, that doesn’t explain why sometimes, I get nostalgic about gathering berries and hunting mammoth.

Except, the reality isn’t always as great as it is in our imagination. Running through fields of breeze blown flowers and golden sunshine sounds idyllic, but the predator crouching in the brush at our heels, or the zip of arrows from anxious tribal bowmen, piercing the air by our ears, does not.

Life expectancy has never been better. We’re living longer lives than ever before. In 1875, nearly 100 years after Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, life expectancy in the United States was just 39.41 years. By 1975, it was 71.43. Today, it’s 78.81 and rising. Yet, It’s still trailing a fair bit behind many other first world countries – 45 of them, to be exact. The top spots, are currently hovering around the 85 year mark, and ever improving, with Hong Kong or Japan on top, depending on whose judging what constitutes a country.

A factor, is undoubtedly the unjustifiable high murder rate, for a first world country. More deadly than Sudan, Somalia and Lebanon, the homicide rate per 100,000 people in the United States is 5.35. In comparison, it’s economic rival, China, has a murder rate of 0.62 according to worldpopulationreview.com.

What ever could be the problem?

Image credit: Geoffrey Coelho

That said, today, the majority of the world, is safer than ever before. The homocide rate in the USA spiked in 1980 at 10.2.

That means you were twice as likely to be killed by violent crime, than you are today.

… so much for the good old days.

Image credit: 8tracks radio

When we’re young, growing up seems so exciting. We’re evolving as little humans into slightly less little humans all the time. Our body is a well oiled machine. Our bodywork is pristine. Barely a tune up is needed to keep us running smooth. When we get a dent, it comes out with a wet paper towel. We are constantly upgrading to the newest model. Then suddenly, we change dealership, we start downgrading instead.

Everything looks better through the rear window.

Especially, if you’re looking through the back pane of a beat up old sedan, and you catch a glimpse of yourself burning rubber in the DeLorean.

Back to the Future

So, what is nostalgia?

The term was introduced by Johannes Hofer, a medical student, in 1688, to relate the homesick ache described by Swiss mercenaries, fighting away from their native country.

Today, it can be best summarised as a powerful emotional response – a strong sentimental thought or feeling, triggered by a sound, sight, smell, or simply self-initiated in our imagination (I have nostalgic thoughts everyday – It’s my go to mood enhancer, whilst on the move), wherein, activity occurs in the memory and reward systems in the brain, when the stimuli triggers metabolic activity and blood flow in the frontal cortex, limbic, paralimbic, and midbrain regions.

Turns out, the brain is actually a petty complicated organ. So much is going on at once, it’s not as simple as saying, that’s dopamine responsible, etc. It only makes up a small part of what is going on. There’s so many other working parts. It’s like changing a headlight on a Volvo with a bulb taken from a Volkswagen and calling the whole car a VW.

Car analogies… what have I resorted to?

It’s awfully close to my pet peeve, sports analogies. I have an unspoken rule not to use them. My moral is: if you need a sports analogy to understand the information, maybe the information isn’t for you.

I know that seems rude. If you’re offended, Im sorry, It really isn’t meant to – that wasn’t my intention. Let me explain it to you;

If you’re about to take a penalty shoot out in football (soccer), and you need arrows painted on the pitch so you can find the goal, maybe you should try another sport.

That nugget was inspired by my brother.

Honestly, it was only a joke. You do your thing. Live life, use sports analogies, go nuts. Screw it, just go ahead and walk mud through my house, help yourself to the food in my fridge, take a shit in my toilet, don’t worry about flushing, I’ll do that for you. Enjoy yourself. No worries.

My baby brother is an intelligent lad, who happened to be a talented rugby player – which earned him a scholarship to an excellent private school. Because of this, his teachers would often initiate explanations using rugby analogies, much to his annoyance and exasperation. Really, it was his pet peeve.

In the end, he finished school with straight A’s and A*’s.

That’s like kicking the game winning conversation, after scoring a try, whilst your coaches stand on the sideline shouting Euclidean geometric angles at you in Latin.

5 rugby balls – 4 rugby balls = 1 patronised student.

I love my little brother, he is an amazing human. Despite, I, being the older sibling, he inspires me. He’s a real achiever.

Meanwhile, this was me in school…

I wonder if he is filled with nostalgia when he reminisces on the days, when I’d force him to hold the video camera, as my shaggy haired mates and I skateboarded into walls, whilst screeching “Hi, I’m Johnny Knoxville, welcome to Jackass Jr’s!”.

We killed some brain cells, but we had fun.

Then I grew up a little, became the kid in the photo above. Grown a little more since then too. Yet, my teenage angst just hasn’t gone away. Its dropped its adjective, but it’s still the same old interloper. The guy who turns up at the party uninvited. It’s been following me around for years. It’s like the smell of Lynx Africa at Christmas.

I believe some of us have a special affinity with nostalgia, bordering on the obsessive. I do. I dive into it at will – hold my breath as long as I can, before I am forced to the surface – consistently, for pleasure. If I could host a dinner party for my emotions, I’d like to sit next to nostalgia.

It’ll be a fine dining menu, of Turkey Twizzlers and potato faces, with butterscotch tart for pudding, served to the table, on little plastic trays, by Jane, my primary school dinner lady.

Image credit: scheduledescape.com

Thank you Jane. Thank you for everything.

A candescent light flickers in the corner, as I tussle to maintain the vision, soaking the room in an ambient rose hue.


If you enjoyed this post, you may also like my blogs on the happiness chemicals; dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins, in The dopamine epidemic and its follow up, Happy chemicals.


What is life without community? I would love to connect with other nicecissists out there. Seeing as you’ve got this far, that’s probably you! Reach out, drop me a message and let me know what you think in the comments, and of course, give me a follow for more – nice!

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