Sometimes, we are in a phase of nostalgia.
As someone pointed out, nostalgia isn’t a very positive feeling. There’s always a sense of looming melancholy that comes with it. The origin of the word itself is Greek : nostos – return home and algos- pain.
Yep, it is definitely painful to live in the past. Which is why often we will find people who are uncomfortable with even talking about the past. They are uncomfortable with nostalgia itself. They wish to keep moving forward.
What do such people do when they meet a highly emotional, sensitive, romanticizing individual who likes to keep reminiscing about the past? This is not a pleasant duo 🙂
I am the forward looker…
I left my past of 17 years in Jeddah behind. I did not want to reminisce. I did not want to cry tears over a past that could not be restored. I did not want to glorify a city that will never mean to me what it meant to me in childhood.
So naturally I couldn’t understand anyone else who looked back that way.
I wanted to turn their heads away from looking back through that window into a past that was not going to return. Or at least to stop giving a commentary to me about it! 🙂
But Allah swt had Prepared an interesting lesson of empathy for me.
So as I write today, I ask you, the reader, to tell me: if you wish to stop someone from looking at that door that is closed now – I ask you, would it work if you tell them: “it is closed. Stop looking at it.” The response most likely would be: “Oh but I so want to go back.” “Turn your head away” “I just want to keep looking – the memories are so precious.” “It will keep you from being happy. Live in the present.” “But that’s the only happiness I have even in the present.” “Don’t even look in that direction.” … Eventually, a resounding “Then I have nothing to look at.”
The more you try, the harder it becomes for the person to look ahead. Because you are trying to pull them away from something that is dear to them.
Perhaps if we can only appreciate the beauty they are looking at? Move towards that door. Look in through that window. Admire those blooming flowers, those magnificent trees, those memories, the radiant joy – whatever it is they are nostalgic about- look at it – see it with their eyes. Just acknowledge it. Maybe that shared bond of empathic romanticizing will do it for them. Maybe it will be that shared appreciation of all that is good in the world which will make them embrace the fact that the door is closed – and what can be done is done.
That moment of realization has to come from within. Even if you are able to force them to move away from that door, it will not truly be worth it because they wouldn’t have done it of their own accord. They will eventually go back to it.
It is ok to look back once in a while, the memories brining back that tinge of bitter sweetness… But by going back, I mean going back in the misery. That is what we are aiming to leave. So perhaps we look together at the past for some time? Do we really need to shun everything that *we* are not comfortable with? Perhaps we have our own fears about the past that we are uncomfortable looking at – but it is only by accepting our whole selves do we really begin to truly heal. So look back and admire the beauty and the mess.
And after admiring that beauty together, you both can now start to admire the beauty in front of you. The one staring you in your face.
It is because we force others to think and be like us, that we forget that Allah swt has Kept chapters and chapters about intentions. That we do things with our own will and our own desire.
It is when we forget that instead of nourishing someone so they find themselves whole and make their own right decisions in life, and instead we try to shower them with right decisions coming from *our* will, do we inhibit the beauty that this person has inherently inside of them.
The straight path has been shown to us – it is available for everyone to walk on… Let us be wayfarers who keep supporting each other on this perilous, long, but sweet journey nonetheless…
May Allah swt Make each of us true partners and helpers of each other on this path towards Jannah. Ameen.
This is about being positive in our outlook in life, but it is also about exhorting and counseling one another to Truth in the most beautiful of ways- in ihsan– excellence. May Allah swt Make all of us amongst the muhsineen.
إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ
Except those who have faith and do righteous deeds, and counsel each other to truth and counsel each other to steadfastness. (103:3)