I Used to… The Danger of Unhealthy Nostalgia

By In Lifestyle, Uncategorized — September 08, 2018
Brooklyn Doing Acrobatic Trick

Yes, that’s a picture of me when I used to be athletic. Such is no more…

My teeth slice through a juicy quarter pound of beef. I hear a crunch as I catch a bite of fresh lettuce and onion. The dull taste of avocado is smooshed in my mouth, its smashable texture like the fragile egos of avocado-loving hipsters.

Burgers. Pizza. Ice cream. Reese’s. Fresh broccoli. A perfectly grilled chicken breast. A fresh Caesar salad. The cheesy delight of cheddar topped asparagus. All the wonderful food things.

I’ve been thinking about food lately. Mostly because I can’t have it. Almost everything makes me sick. I’m down to liquids, a few fruits, baby food, and the easy to digest wonder that is Frosted Mini-Wheats.

If I drive by a fast food joint, the smell of greasy goodness makes me fantasize about skinny dipping potatoes. Their slim, bikini body demeanors jumping into a pool of frying grease. O, the glory.

Driving back from a doctor appointment the other day, I was craving something more than food. As I gazed outside the passenger seat window, my eyes caught sight of the Rockie Mountains, their deep roots coming to an end in the city of Colorado Springs.

Memories hit me like bugs on the windshield. Hiking. Laughing. Friends. Speech and debate tournaments. My mind started running through a list of “I used to’s.” I used to be able to drive. I used to be able to hike. I used to have good childhood friends, all moved away now.

I caught myself quickly before I had the chance to wallow. I know where wallowing leads. Discontentment. Anger. Fear. All emotions which can plague the mind if given roots. I’m living joyfully now, but I only stay that way in the absence of unhealthy nostalgia.

Mourning. It’s a part of life for someone like me. Specifically, I constantly mourn the loss of my life. Lyme: it won’t kill you, but it will take your life. Letting go of my past self, abilities, and connections takes time to mourn. It’s healthy to mourn. It’s UNhealthy, however, to dig a pit of despair.

If you didn’t get that reference, we can’t be friends.

Being a stick in the mud keeps us from enjoying life, and moving through the various levels of being. Life is like a video game. Some people stay at level one until they die. Other people advance to level 1,000 before they’re 30. It all comes down to choices.

We choose to become a victim or a victor. A product of things “out of our control” or a product of our choices in response to those things. Yes, things that happen that we can’t control, but we have a choice on how to react to those things:

  • Did you get diagnosed with cancer? Crap. That sucks. But now you can choose to be a light to the doctors and nurses treating you, instead of throwing a pity party every day.
  • Did your car get totaled in a crash? Sucks to suck. But hey, now you can get a newish car and have a cool story to tell. You survived an epic crash, mostly unscathed.

How we respond to our circumstances determines our future. Whether or not we have a future. That’s right, not a “good” future, but a future at all. No time machine will ever take the bitterness out of our lived experience. If we choose to live the same day over and over, there is nothing anyone can do to move us forward. No future.

Some circumstances are very hard and painful to work through, whether they involve the present or the past. However, with God’s help, nothing is impossible. If we put our trust in the One who knows us best, healing and mindfulness are fully accessible.

If I dwell on the past, even if it was last week, or last year, I can’t mold a better future. I’m living on lost circumstances, mostly irrelevant to the now. It’s the same for everyone else. If we dwell on the hurt someone caused us, or the cushy security of our childhood, we are stagnant in growth and maturity. We flail in stubborn defiances, like a toddler who won’t follow his mother in the supermarket. Throwing ourselves on the ground in a tantrum. Demanding a chocolate bar. And our pasts back. Childish.

As children of God, we have access to healing, even if that healing takes a lot of time and energy on our part. So yeah, I can keep fantasizing about juicy burgers, but it’s not going to change my reality. In fact, it hinders my reality, causing me to put my thoughts and energy toward something useless. I just can’t eat right now. That’s the way it is.

It sounds like a funny thing to have to “move on” from, the hallucinations of food wonder, but it symbolizes a continuous forward motion in my life. I must not look back on things with envy for the past, but opportunity for the future.

Now excuse me while I go drink some water. Tasteless water. Void of flavor, texture, mouth pleasure… *Sigh*

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