A quick note about nostalgia, and history, and the state of our lives

Posted: November 16, 2013 in General, Philosophy
Tags: , , ,

Inspiration can come from so many different places.  A few weeks ago I thought of a decent blog topic, but as with most things I had to give it some time to formalize in my mind before putting it down on paper (so to speak).   I typically don’t keep a formal log of these things “coming together,” but here’s generally what it looks like:

  • Last night, over dinner, I had a conversation with a 12-year-old boy about the original Nintendo Entertainment System, and specifically, how they are hard to find because they’re effectively antique relics that you have to pay some serious coin for.  His response was that he had one, an original one, that still worked; I subsequently offered to buy it and told him to name his price.  We agreed on $100, which I thought was a totally fair price to pay to get a big chunk of my childhood back.  His disclaimer, though, was that it was missing a charger.  A charger?  Really?  Ok young whippersnapper, what the hell do you think I meant by “original Nintendo?”  Apparently, he thought I meant the original Nintendo DS…I quickly retracted my offer and moved instead to calling him out on his misinformation in front of everyone…it was fun.
  • Yesterday around 5:00PM, I enacted my plan to stick it to “the man” (in this case, AT&T is “the man”) by putting the SIM card from my Note II smart phone into a cheap, throw-away AT&T Go Phone; after a week of testing I fully intend to drop the data plan, sell my cell phone and start living a “simpler” life when it comes to cell phones.  Over the last 24 hours, I’ve very much enjoyed “kicking it old school,” with T9 Predictive Text.  Sure, I don’t have a camera phone, but I’ve gone an entire day on the charge that the throw away phone’s battery came with, and the battery indicator hasn’t changed.  Remember when things were that simple, and you only had to charge your phone once a week?
  • Let’s talk infrastructure.  Not any kind of specific infrastructure, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with IT.   Infrastructure is a really cool topic–and people don’t realize how important it is.  Suppose you wanted to make the switch from dumb phone to smart phone; you can’t do that unless there is a significant amount of infrastructure in place (both personally and locally): You have to have the income to support the additional charges, and you have to live in an area that enables you to have access to decent mobile data speeds.  You also need to either know how to use a smart phone, or the ability and desire to learn.  All of these things involve different types of infrastructure.  And, any change you want to make in your life–the kind of car you want to buy, or your diet, or the way you take when you drive to work, require significantly more amounts of infrastructure than the same decisions would require 10 or 15 years ago.  There are just more options now, and as you progress through those options, infrastructure is the “means” that you get hooked on.  You don’t get hooked on the “end” in this case–and those means are what make it difficult to make significant changes in your life.  Infrastructure continues to grow globally, it is what helps advances in culture…but it also seems to make us less self-reliant.  Not something to get bent out of shape about, more just an interesting concept.
  • Within the last month I took my four-year-old daughter to a football game between Valley Forge and Normandy High Schools (both in my home city; VF is my alma mater).  We only stayed for the first half, but it was a chilly October Friday night, and her hands were cold.  I proceeded to warm her hands up by holding them in mine and blowing warm air on them, just like I used to do 12 years ago in the same stadium with her mom.  Janine and I are coming up on our 6th wedding anniversary next week, and our 14th anniversary of being together in the following week.  We’ve been through literally everything together, and we still have so many wonderful years to look forward to.

So, a bunch of miscellaneous stuff happened over the last month, but I’ve been constantly reminded about nostalgia–the “how things used to be” feeling that we all get from time to time.  My brother just blogged about it, too.

I think it goes without saying that we all want to be above our own situations, objective, and cool like astronauts, not affected by emotion but instead lead by experience.  So, when we struggle (in whatever that means), and we think about “how things used to be” with happy memories, or memories of a time that was at the very least, less stressful, it’s hard not to condemn our current situation in some way or another.  One of my brother’s friends commented on his blog, talking about an Avenue Q song called “I wish I could go back to college.”  That song is really hard to not get caught up in on an emotional level, because when we start condemning our situations it’s easy to resort to a sort of self trash-talk.  But what we need to realize is that we all learn every day.  The people who come from rough neighborhoods, or who live paycheck to paycheck, or who don’t get the promotion they want, all learn hard lessons.  Hard lessons are a part of what we do.  It is at least in part why we live–to try to make fewer mistakes tomorrow than we did today.

And, hard lessons get in the way of all the other stuff we’d rather be doing–writing, or spending time with your kids, or knitting, or whatever it is that you wish you could get paid to do.  And maybe someday you will, but in the meantime, you get to learn some hard lessons…these non-negotiables of life are what make that stuff we’d rather be doing more fun, more exciting, more worth-while.  The hard lessons are the means, and your happiness is the end.  So, make the most of them; might as well, because you can’t make them go away.

Be well and stay tuned!

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  1. […] A quick note about nostalgia, and history, and the state of our lives […]

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