It is because of this super important aspect that a big portion of my life revolves around experiencing the world through smells, sounds, tastes, and textures... but mainly smells and sounds.
Smells and sounds to me are a time machine... with the faintest smell I can be transported to a different time and place.
The first few notes of Bon Jovi's "Shot Through The Heart" immediately transports me back to 1986; a time of new schools, summer days, and good friends.
Just the mere whiff of a pine tree is enough to waken the butterflies of Christmas morning anticipation in my stomach.
The soaring strains of the Star Wars theme song invokes such strong feelings in me that it can actually change my attitude (for the better of course!).
Or the scent of rain, or the 'ping!' of a Super Nintendo boot screen, or gingerbread, or the Ghostbusters theme song, or the smell dust burning off of a dormant heater... it's all actually quite remarkable and wonderful.
If I had to put what I experience in a word we can all understand it would be:
I love that word! That word encapsulates the feeling of "ahhhhhh" in me. My happy place, my mental cozy spot.
But here's the rub: I can never be nostalgic about the future. It is impossible.
And that is why nostalgia is also dangerous for me... Nostalgia is always rooted in the past. Things and places and smells and sounds that have already happened. Moments in time that have slipped into memories.
The irony of this whole thing is the fact that nostalgia is predicated on past experiences. There can be no nostalgia without past experiences. At what point do past experiences become nostalgia? Can I be nostalgic while at the same time creating nostalgia?
I've decided on this: If I spend all of my energy reliving what was, I will therefore forfeit what is. If I let my life be consumed by my past, I will therefore forfeit my 'now'.
"But nostalgia gives me such a good feeling."
"I don't want to not be nostalgic."
"Especially because it's who I am and makes me me."
"But I also don't want to miss out on now... what is."
After much thinking and inner dialogue... here is where I have landed:
I don't have to choose. I can actually live in both worlds (without splitting myself into two).
If nostalgia is rooted in the memories of the past then there must be a future counterpart.
I believe the answer to that question is expectancy.
Nostalgia + Memories = Past
Expectancy + Hope = Future
As Christmas time rolls closer the nostalgic side of me is giddy with memories of Christmases gone by, of presents opened, candy canes eaten, songs sung.
Because memories of past Christmases for me are ripe with nostalgia... it feels good and cozy to mentally live in that space... but it doesn't have to end there.
With a subtle shift in the way I categorize smells and sounds, emotions and feelings I arrive at the same base 'good feeling' I associate with nostalgia. Only this time my focus is not on the past but on the future: time I will spend with my family, things I will eat, presents I will give, love I will show.
I now find I am filled with the expectancy and hope of future memories that will be created in the Christmas of now which will eventually morph into the nostalgia of tomorrow, to be repeated over and over again.
Nostalgia + Expectancy = Abundant Life
This Christmas go ahead and visit the Christmases of the past, those nostalgic, cozy places. But also choose to live in the expectancy and hope of what Christ offers us every day, a personal relationship with Him.