October 8, 2011

The Mists of Nostalgia

nostalgia: noun

That subtle and slightly bittersweet ache that we feel when overcome by memories. It can be brought on by something as easy as looking backward out of a car window, or something as hard as stepping into the decaying ruins of a place from our childhood. The slightest scent, the most obscure color can cause an upheaval of our minds where memories crash down incessantly like a waterfall. We drink those memories as though we had been in the desert for days –and maybe we have. A desert is a place devoid, so perhaps we have been devoid of love, of peace, of comfort, of clarity. The hazy clarity of these memories is a shocking contrast to the sharp distortion of the present. Nostalgia is sorrow, delayed mourning for what has been lost in growth, in change and in progress. It is the realization that recapturing what we had then is both impossible and undesirable, but we desire it anyway. At the same time, it is a joy, a gratefulness that those memories exist, that those days happened. As we travel through the museum of our memories, we are amazed, and sometimes full of wonder at the things which happened to us. Even the painful memories are appreciated for the lessons we learned from them, though the tendrils of pain may brush our hearts as we remember.

There is no season quite so nostalgic as autumn. It symbolizes a time of change, of letting the old go and preparing to face the new. We do this every season, but autumn is both the most beautiful and the most hideous. It begins with the mottled and brilliantly glowing leaves and ends with the stark brown and grey of empty trees and rain. it reminds us of the most beautiful days and the most disheartening ones. We watch as the wind sends showers of scarlets down in the golden light of the sun, marveling and mourning. We marvel at the beauty of the falling leaves, but mourn their flight from the trees. And so as I sit and watch through the wavy glass as leaves fall, I am overcome by memories, by nostalgia. My heart aches gratefully for the moments of wonder. Yet I am content.

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