Ah! The Good Old Days
Warning: Objects in mirror are closer than they appear. This is the message on the rear-view mirror of the passenger side of my car. Funny how real life is a little like that too. The past is right behind us, always staring right back at us. What we do today, we view tomorrow. Sometimes the perspective is slightly altered, it is not as intense. It has had time to settle, to ferment. And like a good wine, it often gets better.
“I prefer the mystic clouds of nostalgia to the real thing, to be honest.”(Robert Wyatt)
As we progress down our personal time lines, we leave behind a trail of memories. The old events are catalogued in our mental long-term memory drawer, while the new experiences are front and center. We need this sense of organization because it puts our lives in a logical order, even if may be slightly distorted at times. It frames our accomplishments. It also documents our failures. This life-size jigsaw puzzle slowly comes together as the pieces are revealed. I refer to the past times as the good old days. I like the nostalgic feeling that they give me. They justify my existence.
“It is strange how we hold on to the pieces of the past while we wait for our futures.” (Ally Condie)
I felt very grown-up when our sixth grade class was promoted to the newly constructed junior high wing. I left the old elementary red brick building behind, but first I packed away my memories. Ah, those were the good old days when the janitor delivered cold white and chocolate milk in pint-sized clear bottles with funny circular cardboard lids through which we stuck our paper straws and slowly sipped the creamy beverage while eating our allotted 2 graham crackers placed on a small white napkin like shingles on a roof. I would start to get excited when I first heard the squeaky wheels of Mr. Susi’s wooden cart echo down the hallway accompanied by the clinking of the full bottles against one another like rustic wind chimes.
Although I enjoyed my personal freedom in college, I sure did like to come home on Thanksgiving and Christmas break to enjoy some of Mom’s home-cooked meals and sleep in my own bed. Ah, the good old days … I could feel like a child again and know that the refrigerator was stocked with delicious food that I didn’t have to purchase and that Mom and Dad were there every night around the kitchen table where we shared stories. The house was alive with seasonal smells and special decorations. All I had to do was enjoy myself.
Juice boxes, peanut butter and home-made strawberry jam sandwiches, chips, and Oreo cookies were packed each summer morning in the Igloo cooler before we headed off to the swim club for a few hours of outdoor fun. Orange plastic “swimmies”, colorful beach towels and a collapsible yellow and brown lawn chair filled the cargo area of our brown Volvo station wagon as I drove the kids down the gravel lane to the pool. We always pulled over on the narrow roadway to say “hello” to the cows in the nearby field. Their vacant ink black eyes blinked, acknowledging our daily greeting, as they continued to chew on the fresh alfalfa, swirling it around in their mouths with their huge pink tongues like cake batter being churned by a mixer. Ah…the good old days…so simple and serene.
Loss magnifies the good old days. It reminds us of what we had and what we lost. Grief can startle us and it can momentarily shut down the present. Once we get past the shock and start to heal, we can re-focus and put our lives back in their new order. The intensity of this difficult time eventually softens when we allow the feeling of hope to once again restore our future. We know that we can’t go back and that we must go forward.
“I’d trade all of my tomorrows for one simple yesterday.”(Kris Kristofferson)
Today will be your tomorrow. Today’s events just might be your new good old days. So make them memorable! Make them special and hold them in your hearts for a later time when you might need them.
“There are a few moments in your life when you are truly and completely happy, and you remember to give thanks. Even as it happens you are nostalgic for the moment, you are tucking it away in your scrapbook.” (David Benioff)
What are you doing with your day? What will be your new good old days?