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What's the Best Cure for Nostalgia?

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by Matthew (subscribe)
WEN Editor
Published April 13th 2012
One cent coins. Two cent coins. Opening the door to find your milk in a glass bottle. Being greeted by the friendly tram conductors requesting payment for your ticket. A perfect stranger suddenly stops in front of you to light his ciggy in the middle of the local shopping centre. Doesn't this sound a bit like the good old days to you?

Simply put, nostalgia is a longing for the past, especially for a bye-gone era that you cherish so dearly and would go back to in a heartbeat, if given the chance. At a guess it probably wouldn't affect anyone under the age of ten anywhere near as much as it would affect us grown-ups. But I'm more than happy to stand corrected on such an assumption.

As nostalgia seems to gnaw away, it may be difficult to find a cure, until now that is. So please join me as we take a wonderful trip down memory lane together and explore a range of options.

1). Visit your primary school

A common yearning in one's adult life could be for the days of the old school yard. In Australia, it's the primary school; in the United States, it's elementary school. Wherever you are, a longing is a longing.

Taking the trip down memory lane to your former primary school may be just what you need. The mere observance of the school grounds from a distance should do the trick. It won't be long before those old memories of who did what and where start to surface.

Photo by Mattinbgn Wikimedia Commons
That's close enough - photo by Mattinbgn Wikimedia Commons

The only time this can become nostalgically chaotic is when you rock up to your old primary school to find it has been converted into something else (most likely flats or units).

2). Listen to a childhood song

Depending on your generation, a childhood song for you could be very different from someone else. Those who belong to Generation Y might be old enough to remember when the following 1992 song by Vanessa Williams came out. You might be surprised and exclaim, "Oh yes, I remember this. It reminds me of..."

The same singer is also an actor, who starred in Melrose Place back in the day. She has also been spotted in the more recent Ugly Betty.

An even better – and according to my estimation – most powerful cure for nostalgia would be, if it was possible, to meet the singer of your childhood song (if they're still around) and personally thank them for their priceless contribution. Can you imagine what kind of resolution that would bring?

You'll find that a lot of YouTube comments on music videos from long ago have a nostalgic feel to them, especially the ones that came out during the childhood and teenage years of Generation Y. This could possibly reveal that the nostalgic condition might be more common than we dare to think, though many of us are in solid denial.

3). Watch an old sitcom

As we have seen, YouTube can be a treasure trove of nostalgic material. That's probably why a lot of workplaces block the site. I suppose your boss would be hardly flattered to know that you'd rather be living in the past – it's moving away from him or her, you see. Yet they could be more backward than you, if the truth is known.

A seemingly long forgotten show that aired during the early 90s was All Together Now. In this clip you'll be confronted with the mischief of Jon English, and even a sudden flow of goosebumps. Soak it up and sing along to the intro.

That's a great starting point. Last time I checked, YouTube hosted a number of what appeared to be full length episodes.

4). Driving past an old crush's house

They may no longer reside at such a place, and indeed could have sold up and moved interstate a long time ago, but the simple act of cruising past the home of someone you used to secretly admire can be therapeutic – or even painful if you're still single.

It could be that girl you once had a crush on during high school days and at that time you looked her up in the phonebook. This time you are old enough to do a bit of drive-by stalking on your own, minus the pesky L-plates. Moreover, Google Maps didn't exist in the year 2000 so this'll make the identification of the precise location a lot easier.

Photo by Stephen Dawson Wikimedia Commons
Too close for comfort maybe? - Photo by Stephen Dawson Wikimedia Commons

When you arrive outside her house, be unobtrusive. Just sit back and imagine what she would have been doing on the weekend in such and such a month in so and so a year. Perhaps play a relevant song you have downloaded from iTunes that will help you to reminisce about that time. It would be even better if you could listen to that same song on your Sony Discman instead of the modern day iPod contraption. This helps to foster the nostalgic illusion. Try not to stay there too long. Remember to have a life as she has certainly gotten on with hers.

Now, just to wrap things up with a bit of a disclaimer. If you're currently feeling down and out in the present time, then it's not a good idea to attempt any of the above exercises, especially if memories of happier times come flooding in. It can leave you feeling worse off. But for those of you who are up to the challenge, please let us know your ideas.

What is the best cure for nostalgia?
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I'm 70 and over the years I have enjoyed droving down the "street where I lived," sitting outside in the car and looking at my bedroom window and recalling the beautiful lace bedspread Mum had made for my bed. Then I would look over at the lounge room bay window and remember the hours I spent practicing the piano.
Mum sold the house after my Dad died in 1957 for 3,000 pounds and last year ir sold for $1,25000
by carol (score: 0|8) 3369 days ago
Share your memories with someone who cares. I have suffered from nostalgia for at least 15 years. It's a very messed up state of depression. My mother passed away recently, and I discovered, in my mourning, that my strongest yearning during that time was to share memories of my mom with others who knew her.
The craziest things will set off nostalgia in me. Old TV shows, books I had read as a child, certain music, and so on.
by finch (score: 0|4) 2501 days ago
I feel such delight about the 'good old days.' Who’s not to say we can't create our own 'good days' though. Kids are a great and constant reminder of not being too serious and remembering what it was like to be real young.
I recently took a trip down memory lane, with a visit to my home town, family and friends. I did exactly this. We looked at the old school etc. among many other things.
Great writing Matt; your article is evoking and brings to mind many pleasures and interests of the past. I'd be really keen to get on some roller skates again and not that kind they have today.

by Simone Lee (score: 2|536) 3390 days ago
Noting that you look back fondly on things from the 90's makes me nostalic for days when Gen Y and X didn't exist, and I didn't feel really old for remembering things that happened in the 60's.
by john5 (score: 2|164) 3395 days ago
Hahaha. too true! I'm also guilty of driving past houses I used to own/live in, just to look and reflect.
My other faves, buying lollies that my kids have never heard of and then saying things like "OMG, OMG choo choo bars were the best and what about spurt bubble gum and RC cola" they just look with smiles saying were they really that good mum. I nod salivating at the thought - truth be known I may not like them any more, but they were great then.

We recently went to a $2 shop and bought the old style silver milk shaka cups, brought them home, filled them up with ice cold milk shakes, lined the kids up on stools at the breakfast bar, and told them how it used to be at the milk bar when I was a kid. They loved it and so did we, sipping through straws into freezing metal cups.
by lesle (score: 1|82) 3394 days ago
Sunnyboys, Metro Gum, Paddle Pops, Fantales, Minties, one scoop of ice cream in a cone at the local milk bar, "20c of hot chips please", Pluto Pups at the (Moore Park) Easter Show, Chiko Rolls, The Rotor, the Ghost Train, the Mirror Maze and the River caves at Luna Park, double deck buses and single deck trains, cricket and footy in the backyard and lamb was so cheap you'd be saying "Aw Mum, not lamb again!". Thats some of my memories from growing up.
by john5 (score: 2|164) 3394 days ago

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