Yesterday was like many Sundays in that I become nostalgic. This past Sunday’s nostalgia was turbocharged while listening to an old favorite Pink Floyd album “Wish You Were Here”. It seems like ages ago that I preferred this album over the more popular “Dark Side of the Moon”. Anyway, while soaking in the brilliant chords and tones of the LP, I contemplated the album graphics. The experience felt like traveling through time.
Nostalgia is both famous and infamous for its ability to cause us to wish. We wish we could be with people who are no longer a part of our lives or who have died. We wish we could relive special experiences. We wish some aspects of our lives could have turned out differently. We wish we could return to the good old days (which were not actually all that good).
“Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts
Hot ashes for trees
Hot air for a cool breeze
Cold comfort for change
Did you exchange
A walk-on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?”
As living biological beings, we’ve all been through ups and downs, many of them being very intense ups and downs. When we honestly ponder those experiences we come to the conclusion that most of them, with the probable exception of being traumatized, caused us to be better people. Still, we sometimes wish we could go back in a time machine and prevent frightful events from happening and cause happy events that didn’t happen, to happen. This is just the way we think because we’re beings who cogitate.
As Pink Floyd’s album played in the background, my youthful idealism was revived. Although I’ve never become jaded, I’ve recently become somewhat disheartened by current events. Back in 1975 (Has it already been 44-years?) when the record was released, my idealism was at fever pitch. I envisioned and profoundly wished for a world future where everyone on Earth would enjoy equal access to wholesome food, would be safely secure, be able to openly love who they love, have access to culture and higher education, be surrounded by a clean environment, enjoy the benefits of science, and perform meaningful work. In other words, wellbeing would exist for everybody.
I wish my naïve, idealistic dreams had come true so we all could live in a beautiful world. Don’t most of us have similar wishes?
“I’m one of those introverted people who simply feels a lot better after spending time alone thinking through ideas and emotions. This is a sign, I’ve come to think, of a kind of emotional disturbance –a reaction to inner fragility. I wish I were more able to just act and do, rather than constantly have to retreat and examine and think.”–Author/philosopher Alain de Botton
After the record finished playing and the turntable’s tone arm lifted and parked itself, I came to the conclusion that most folks live lives filled with emotional unsteadiness. We struggle with our intense attachment to the past and our equally intense wishes to leave a positive legacy for the future. In the end, I share the sublime wish of a great many people–to live and let live.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders a thought from medieval Christian writer Thomas à Kempis. “Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”