I get weird feelings when I go back to places that I used to live. School. Where I grew up. Restaurants I spend lots of time at. Streets I walked down before. It’s always a “oh what a better time” kind of feeling. I was running the dorms after dark, through grassy knolls lit up and empty. I felt really at peace. For a second, I wished I could be back there. Where it was easy and I wasn’t always worried.
Which is totally bullshit. I caught myself. Being there was horrible. There was all kinds of pressure. I was always stressed about this or that, waiting, bored, fighting about something. I had all these deadlines and all this anxiety if I didn’t make them.
What I came away with wasn’t that we tend to idealize the past. I already know that and I don’t think that’s what I was doing. Being back it’s a lot clearer that it didn’t need to be that way. It’s actually a great place – I was the problem. Running through campus at night is one of my favorite things to do. It’s so peaceful. I never once did it when I lived there.
I made all the pressure up. It was a mental creation. An unnecessary torture I inflicted on myself. I am the source and the sufferer of my own anxiety. Idealizing rarely involves adding anything new, it’s mostly about trimming the details – the shit agonized and stewed over. You know, everything you don’t even remember anymore.
I think that driving force is responsible for a lot of the places I’m going. It propels you. But it also eats at you. It’s crushing. Epictetus said “that your son is sick, not that he may die of it.” Doesn’t mean you ignore it and pretend that he’s well. You just opt out of the anguish. Opt out of The Pressure. Or, I guess, you can wait for the past to do it for you.
I’m trying to do that this time around. That’s the nice thing about trying to live in the present – and how brief our piece of it is – you always seem to get another shot.
That’s funny because my feelings are completely different. Whenever I go somewhere I used to be, I feel like I have such a better life now than I did before.
Perhaps another way to look at things is by telling yourself “How will I see this in the future?” Sort of removing yourself from the situation to see it from a more third-person perspective. Of course, this sort of rationalization comes from both having more experience and also from being very astute about yourself.
If more people acted in the now with the idea in mind of how they would regard their own actions later on then people would have a lot less regrets I imagine.
I get the same thing. I think a large part of it is that I can look back on the bad stuff then, and realize that all the anxieties I had from even a year ago weren’t rational; and all the stuff I was scared of never came to pass. So I’m left thinking about only the positives because with hindsight, the negatives were bullshit.
Hopefully, someday, I will realize that without hindsight.
I feel the same way as you when I tend to dwell on the past. I suppose I just tend to notice when I’m being delusional and call bullshit on myself more often.
But it’s easier that way, when you look at the past, you already know all of the solutions to the problems the “you” in the past had. To want to go back, I think, is the wish of being able to foresee and deal with any problem that arises. This entry kind of reminded me of the play “Our Town” (which can be extremely boring.) I won’t go into detail as to what it’s about, but here’s the moral of the story: Don’t take the everyday events of your life for granted, because -that’s- exactly what you’re going to miss when you don’t have it all anymore.
Good point. Maybe what should be done is temporarily “stepping out” of our life, what Frank Lucas calls “backtracking” (I think Ryan mentioned him also in a post of his) – in short, this guy would isolate himself completely for several weeks and think about everything going on in his life and what to do next.
I did the Camino de Santiago two years ago, and one of the best things about it was being isolated from people and, slowly but surely, disconnecting yourself from your life and all the shit happening in it. After some time you come into this strange state of being really indifferent about everything. In addition, since you’re walking all day long, you have LOTS of time to think – I could look at my life from a really different perspective.
Sorry, I ment @anonymous, but I guess it applies to Brian Darvell too 🙂
You need that pressure to drive you forward, but it can definitely create unintended consequences. Sometimes negative thoughts can slip into my mind, and ruin my whole day. They seep in and brew in the back of our minds, making us feel helpless. This can reverberate throughout the day, affecting our actions and making us feel depressed, whether or not we realize what causes this depression. Only when you stop and try to think, ‘What is it that’s bringing me down?’ can you force out this irrationality, and resume objective thought. I have a little notebook I rarely use, but when I’m in a bad mood and I realize I’m not exactly sure why, trying to write down the causes really helps to bring me back to positivity.
On another note, in my opinion the only thing worse than mental stress is boredom. The lack of any emotion at all, or the desire to apply yourself when you have no medium to do it on.
“Today i escaped from anxiety. Or no, i discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions – not outside.”