Last week I traveled across Oregon for two separate work events which, for the first time, blended the place I grew up with my speaking career. While I thoroughly enjoyed the events, they were not the cause of my emotional highlights from the week.
To provide some context, for the past few years anytime I traveled back home a sense of anxiety and worry would loom over me. In short, I think I was afraid that the Oregon I grew up loving wouldn’t be the same place when I went back to visit. That maybe visiting that place again might somehow ruin the past I cherished so dearly.
To no one’s surprise, it’s not the same place. Yet, it took me until this most recent visit to discover why that is not only okay, but maybe preferred.
It‘s my last day at home before my flight and it’s an uncharacteristically sunny Fall day in the Willamette Valley. Wanting to take advantage, I lace up my running shoes and begin down a familiar sidewalk near my childhood home. I could make the turns with my eyes closed I’d run this route so many times.
Without the need to focus on where I’m going, I lose myself in thought. I think to how many times I’d ran this route, how many people had run this route with me. I pass my childhood friends homes, the hardware store where the Blockbuster Movie used to be, and my favorite Chinese restaurant (shout-out Wan Lung).
I think of when I showed my buddies from Oklahoma what the PNW was all about, the late night drives to no where with my high school friends, and I get sad. This is what I was afraid of, being so consumed by the past that I could no longer even enjoy the memory of it. I become overwhelmed with nostalgia that I almost stop my run, but then it hits me.
By allowing ourselves to be consumed nostalgic memories we lived through, we are taking for granted all of the life we had to live to make those memories in the first place.
The reason these places and people resonate so deeply with us is because of the life we lived at those places and with those people.
Nostalgia is not meant to weigh us down with worry that it can’t be replicated, rather, to server as a reminder to keep living.
Text and old friend a memory you share with them, just to revel in the nostalgia of it.
What is your favorite thing about your childhood home?
“It is strange how we hold on to the pieces of the past while we wait for our futures.”
- Ally Condie, Matched