Nostalgia and technology

Oh, How time flies, said St. Paul, and it’s true. Most of us have a large bank of memories that serve us well, recalling events that make us joyful, or sad and sorry for our mistakes. But it has always been a kind of danger to dwell too much on the past because emotions are powerful, and if left unchecked can create a longing for “memory and desire”, the basis of romanticism, which T.S. Eliot thought could be a danger to our spiritual health.

While no Eliot scholar, I do agree with the need for moderation and caution in the use of memory. Music, movies, sports, and politics have their moments in our lives, and some of those moments “burn” into our souls because they are associated with emotions. Emotions can lead us easily to distractions in doing our real duties and from real people. With technology it’s now so easy to rebuild those memories of “the glory days” (which often are really only glorious in our minds) which seem to be most powerful in the age range of about 16-21; not surprisingly, these are often the years of most fun and least responsibility for lots of people.

I remember a janitor in the college I attended saying “Enjoy life now, ’cause it gets real hard soon,” a statement that made me smile at the time (I was following his advice on the first part of the sentence) but I thought “Come on, every older person says stuff like that!” However, his advice turned out to be one of those informal personal maxims that really has stuck, because now that I’m older, it’s true. The “more responsible we get”, the more humanly difficult our lives become. We need to bring St. Paul’s “time flies” back into perspective, and seek the Life that never ends, the one for which we have the deepest longings. Jesus’ Resurrection has opened that longing to us, and our souls rejoice. In the meantime, let’s enjoy our nostalgic moments in a moderated-supernatural light. Hope completes the picture for our souls.

Speaking of souls, the Plimsouls composed one of the best power-pop ballads of the 1980s “A Million Miles Away”. Follow the lyrics, and feel free to shed a tear… (click here)

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