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A Discourse on Society, Science, Perception, Art and maybe still more…
As you may know I moved fairly recently – 9 months ago – to Australia. Having lived all my life in one place, it came as no surprise that the well known to migrants nostalgic feelings and longing for home would affect me at some point. So there I was, often homesick, looking back at nice moments and memories of my Greek life. There I was, feeling like the alter ego of the lead-actor of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia (if you have read my previous post, you must by now know that Ι am a devoted Tarkovsky fan!)…
Trying to stay on top of this sort of feelings, I pictured myself back home, living everyday life the way I used to. Somehow, however, this daydreaming failed to work. I knew deep down that even if I were to find myself back in my “safe” routine, still a sense of unfulfillment would dominate. I started thinking that probably I was not feeling so much homesick as I was feeling timesick. I don’t think I was missing home on itself as much as I was missing past memories and isolated segments of my past easy going and carefree lifestyle. Needless to say that all those moments belonged only to the past and could not have been revived even if I were to find myself back home. The more I thought about it the more it seemed that, at least for me, timesickness overrules homesickness. Missing fond memories prevails over missing home.
Still, why was I experiencing those strong timesickness feelings often? Although the past is rich in very fond memories, present can offer a great deal of pleasant moments, which will become tomorrow’s nostalgic memories. I am close to be convinced that it all comes down to the lag between the moment an event occurs and the moment it is classified as a pleasant memory by our perception. It takes some time before our selective memory distorts our view of how things actually happened, leaving only the pleasant aspects, while suppressing all the negative ones. This makes us so often praise the past and feel nostalgic about it when comparing to the present. Woody Allen’s recent movie Midnight in Paris depicts that in a very nice way. (By the way, I started writing this post before Midnight in Paris was granted an Oscar award)
My assumption is that if we could minimise this lag between experiencing a moment and classifying it as a pleasant one, then contemplating about what past experiences at other places, with other people, under different circumstances, all that would only serve us to enjoy event more the present moment. Good old days and the comparison of them with the daily routine, wouldn’t daunt or impede us from trying out new experiences in life. On the contrary our history would merely provide a sense of connectedness, fulfillment and optimism about what is to come.
Finishing this post, I should say that I am yet to find those thoughts fully working for me… I am getting there however!