uncle jerry's

Irreverent Thoughts on the life YA

Search

Nostalgia: It Ain’t What It Used to Be


The point of New Year’s ain't to look back and resolve to do better. The point of New Year’s is . . . actually, there ain't no point. Just straighten up already.

—Grandpop.

Peace and joy, Camper.


Your Uncle Jerry doesn’t care for nostalgia. He doesn’t look back. Partly, this is because, as a child in the deep forest, when he did look back, he usually found Grandma Jerry coming after him with a strap. Better to keep moving forward, as the nice doctor keeps telling Uncle Jerry.


Take historians and hoarders: Nostalgia is their whole problem. They conserve the past. They say they’ll do something with it eventually, but really they just hold it aloft once in a while to admire like a Beatles’ LP or one of those troll dolls with the wild hair. Maybe they got it on sale years ago and they still kinda love it—whatever. That's just nuts.


The problem, Camper, is in making no choices. They can't keep it all and can't let it go. Collection without selection, also known as bonding with junk, is a bondage for real. Because now they have to fit the past somewhere on the stairs or in the garage behind the bicycle parts and the box of old New Yorker magazines. Maybe they'll stack the past on the kitchen table with the junk mail and go through it later for coupons.


So they pile up yesterday’s ideas until they block this morning’s sunlight, and then they sit down behind their personal wall of border security and they sigh. All safe. From the future. And that’s why they’re called conservative.


Your Uncle Jerry likes a clean slate this time of year. There’s plenty about his own past that he would happily sell off to a Martian junk dealer. Like the time Uncle Jerry’s Older Sister pounded him into the ground in front of the Little Shack in the Deep Forest, and Uncle Jerry had to run away among the bears and mosquitoes to catch his breath. There’s little value in that bit of history, no matter what the nice doctor says.


Uncle Jerry likes just a few standout possessions, positioned like landmarks in a clean, well-lighted life.


It’s true, okay, sometimes nostalgia has its uses. Mostly dark improper uses, like protecting a confederate statue. But sometimes, sometimes, if we’re smart about what we collect, the past will speak to us about the future—and sometimes it won’t say You’re toast.


Sometimes, the past will say Look what happened every time you punched your sister or let Conservatives into power. You took a pounding. Look it up: Deficits, war, voter suppression. Every. Single. Time. If you want things to be different this time, you’ll need to change your approach.


Uncle Jerry wants to be smart about both the past year and the coming one. How? Where to start? One thing's for sure, kiddo: It doesn't work to build a wall of treasured fears, cardboard glories. Much better to straighten up, grab a troll by the orange hair, and run it out to the trash heap of history.


Look at where you are, Camper. And start cleaning.


Joy and Peace.

32 views