My high school friend got called to the bar recently, so we had a mini high school reunion. Following weekend had a wedding for a friend from university, whose reception was actually at the university. Even ran into an old professor randomly that weekend, so I guess the theme for this week is nostalgia. When I went to Edmonton, I felt like driving around some old roads. I hadn’t visited in some six months, but even prior to that, I only really stuck to a small portion of the city where my friends and I hung out. There’s a whole bunch of the city I used to drive through or spend time in which I hadn’t really seen in years, so it was nice just driving around the neighbourhood I grew up in, taking the routes I used to take to go to church or school, all those little connecting roads. There’s been lots of development in the city, and lots of interesting construction. I don’t like to live in nostalgia, but I appreicate being able to visit the feeling every once in a while. It keeps me grounded, reminding myself of my roots and where I came from. At the same time, I realize that not speaking to my family anymore means I cut off access to a lot of where I came from. I’ll miss looking through photo albums of when we were kids.

Lots of little anniversaries this time of year:

  • Hernia surgery.
  • Friend got married.
  • Pokewalks. Still got 9 eggs waiting to hatch.
  • Started going to the gym.
  • Some friends moved away.
  • Quit my job.
  • Employment insurance.
  • I bought Philips Hue light last year to help regulate my sleep by syncing it with the sunrise and bedtime. I only just got around to doing that just a few weeks ago.

What’s the purpose of nostalgia? How does it fit into people’s lives? Why am I feeling it now?

There’s value in tradition because it’s a foundation we can build on. Friends often introduce us to new ones. We can derive new information based on information that we already know. Small machines are created to make micro machines. Once we have a stable base, then it’s easy to take risks so long as they don’t threaten our headquarters. Our brains can’t handle new stimuli all the time. It’s overwhelming when nothing is familiar, so the brain filters out the known variables so that we can better handle the unknown.

I’m living a new life. I’m turning my back on my family. I’m not pursuing engineering work at the moment, even though I just started wearing my iron ring again. Carrie is done her four years of school, and now we’re both making money again. I’m finished at the moment with counselling and working through my mental illness and trauma directly, but I’m maintaining it daily. In a couple years, Carrie and I will start having kids. Feels like we’re starting a new chapter here, and before moving on, sometimes it’s good to review and even re-read the previous chapters to remember what happened. It provides context and history to new situations, which inform how you should feel and respond moving forward.

Nostalgia is comforting when the world changes too quickly. I’m going through a lot of changes. I re-watch a lot of old TV shows because there aren’t that many good ones out there, but it’s comforting to hear the same old funny jokes. I like to eat the same foods. Some adventurous types like to only eat at new places, whereas I prefer to eat places that are consistently delicious.

Part of why I spent two years in counselling was to increase my adaptability to change. I could barely handle working full-time, so when there were changes to my regularly scheduled programming, like leaving town for the weekend, I did not recover quickly. I’d work, and that was about it. I couldn’t help Carrie with groceries or cleaning. I’d be watching TV for pretty much the entire evening, barely getting ready for bed before passing out. I did almost nothing on the weekends, whereas now I’m learning to cook new recipes so Carrie has good food to pack for lunch. Probably not a big deal for you well-adjusted adults out there, but it’s a big accomplishment for me.

I’m normally not really a nostalgic person, so if I’m feeling it a lot right now, that tells me I’ve been more stressed than usual. My three year resolution runs out in January. I used to be chomping at the bit to take on extracurricular activities, but I banned them almost three years ago in order to retain my sanity. Even after it expires, I may just want to keep chilling. A couple more months and then I think I’ll be healthy again. Sometimes I get wild ideas that need to be brought into this world, but I just feel tired right now. I don’t even feel like drawing some deep, grand conclusion from this whole experience into this post. It could also be this cold that I recently caught.

It’s tempting right now to prepare to hit the ground running once the resolution expires, but if I’m feeling stressed enough to feel nostalgic right now, I’ll take that as a sign that I should keep resting.

Jonathan Phan Lê @jon_le