Today’s Bad Days Will Be Tomorrow’s Nostalgia

Nostalgia Photos - Sarandy Westfall

Photo: Sarandy Westfall

I’m going to join in on the pandemic whine-fest and say that it’s been a dull few months. My government can’t decide on its lockdown regulations, freelance opportunities are dwindling, and I just tore my abdominal wall.

So it’s a no-brainer that I choose to see how much my present days sucks and to reminisce on how much better everything used to be. If one thing’s for certain, it’s that I’ve been taking one too many strolls down Memory Lane.

I miss the times spent in the devil’s workshop and not feeling guilty about it. I miss my younger self and the fearlessness that accompanied my youth. I miss being free from worry and having the freedom to do anything I wanted.

Today, on the contrary, carries a certain dread. I have my rehab exercises and this blog post to bang out before I go back to writing my novel, which in all probability doesn’t involve a prosperous future. I also can’t work out and my car is threatening to die on me.

Yet I still feel that there’s a silver lining to all of this. Despite my wanting to escape into the past, I’m pretty certain that there’s an incentive to stay in the present.

Sure, I can’t lie down on my back without wincing and my creative well is as shallow as an IKEA saucer, but I’m sure there’s a lesson lurking somewhere beneath my pain.

Before we figure that out though, let’s talk a walk down Memory Lane together and see what I’m so nostalgic about.

The good old days

I was an idiot during my twenties. Not exactly breaking news if you know me personally. In short, I had nothing going on for me.

I didn’t care about anything, and wasn’t bothered to. I was broke, uneducated, and I smoked in the house despite being in a family of non-smokers. I was unfit, played games all day, and chased highs all night. It was one of the least productive times in my life.

And yet I recall those days with longing.

I miss the single-minded focus I had. All I wanted then was to get good at Warcraft 3. I’d wake up in the afternoon, fire up the game, play until sundown, take a quick break, then it was back to playing until bedtime, which was often an hour or so before sunrise.

But few other pleasures beat the joy of playing your favourite game with friends and a few beers (when I managed to raid my dad’s stash). It’s these little pockets of time that I reminisce about the most.

Was it a sorry state to live in? Probably. But I’d argue that it’s exactly what successful people do as well. They find what drives them and they do it as much as they can with little regard for other things in their life.

The only difference is that their obsessions provide more value to society, while mine was just all about pleasure seeking.

Look up the lives of Micheal Jordan or Elon Musk and tell me they’re not obsessed. Had I been more interested in programming or academics during this phase, I reckon my life would’ve taken a pretty drastic turn.

But enough of my loafing days. Let’s zoom ahead to another time when I actually had something going on for me, like having a job.

Nostalgia Bored - Siavash Ghanbari

Time heals all wounds

Besides stupidity, my past is also riddled with pain, mostly of the heartbreak variety. And like my previous example, these memories also conjure feelings of sentimentality, despite everything that had happened.

Perhaps time’s helping hand has smoothed the edges enough that I don’t feel the cut every time I think about my failed relationships. Or perhaps I’ve simply learned a better definition of love.

Either way, let’s explore my time in Singapore, when I was broke and holding on to a failing career. A time where, despite being in the worst headspace to build a life with someone in a different country, I still managed to find little nuggets of contentment.

Like that time we enjoyed durians and conversations on the sidewalk. Or maybe it was that time we went DVD shopping so that we could watch it on our twelve-inch display in our hundred square foot room.

Of course, there were also the drunk arguments about money, time, and our future together, but these memories seem to have faded behind the shadow of those brief joyful moents.

Treat your present like tomorrow’s nostalgia

Now we return to the present day, a time that’s the dullest when compared to the nostalgia of the past and the promises of the future.

It doesn’t matter if you’re currently living your dreams or if you’re going through a rough patch—unless you’re on a high, the current moment, right now, is where you tend to feel the most disinterested.

In fact, some people might argue that the current moment is where you’ll ever feel anything, but I digress.

Great goals require time, and your daily effort will always seem insignificant when compared to the end result. But we’ve got to remember that our today is a result of all our yesterdays stacked together.

Sure, that 300 words you just wrote won’t mean much now, but a year on, you’ll have a novel and be glad that you stuck with it. Yeah, that two-kilometre run might be low by average standards, but you’ll easily surpass a thousand kilometres in total if you do it over a long enough timeline.

Your struggles today might seem like a drag, and they may seem pointless, but your efforts will culminate into something great. That something will only be possible if you keep doing what you’re doing, however.

What would please you to know is that no matter what you’re going through at the moment, no matter the pain or the mistakes you’re making, you’ll probably still look back at this time and call it the good old days.

38 thoughts on “Today’s Bad Days Will Be Tomorrow’s Nostalgia

  1. And, if you’re a writer, you just might end up using “now” in a novel. Like maybe twenty years in the future you may end up using it, but whatever you’ve lived through is part of who you are, and part of what you will draw on when it comes time to build the world of your novel.

    • Yeah, especially when compared to audio, video, or visual mediums. I like the ability to slowly craft these ideas, instead of trying to capture these feelings on the fly. Thank YOU for the comment!

  2. You know, I’ve had a lot of this on my own mind lately. I was writing in a journal, completely unable to think of anything to write at all, and I found myself writing a list of all the things I miss. I also catch myself feeling nostalgia for times that weren’t so great in my life. I guess that’s a “rose-colored-glasses” situation. I think we romanticize the bad times once they’re behind us for a while. But we need to make something out of them, not wallow…. I tend to wallow.

    • That’s interesting, because I tend to wallow too. I mean, why not? It feels great, much better than the present moment, that’s for sure.

      I’ve come to terms that the present will always feel insignificant to me, however, which helps me get things done even though I might still be wallowing in the good old days.

      And if I feel so good about the past, what’s to say I won’t feel good about ‘now’ someday?

      Thanks for sharing your perspective. You always bring good points to the comments section.

      Also, journal high-five! I just changed my layout a bit and that’s refreshed my practice a bit.

      • I used to free write (forced myself to write two pages a day), but now I’m incorporating bullet journalling so that I can keep myself on track with the day’s activities, feel less resistance about tracking the day’s events (because bullet points rather than normal writing allow me to track more things quicker), and I’ve also allowed myself to write only as much as I want, so it’s all more organic now.

  3. Your struggles today might seem like a drag, and they may seem pointless, but your efforts will culminate into something great –> LOVE this! Will come back to this every time I need extra motivation to slay the rest of 2020 :)

  4. hey buddy,

    i’m starting my blog too.. can you be my writing buddy?

    i have to stop being a mercenary and be my true self. A writer

    Cheers, Michelle

    On Tue, Oct 27, 2020 at 5:04 AM Stuart Danker – I Write Stuff wrote:

    > Stuart Danker posted: ” I’m going to join in on the pandemic whine-fest > and say that it’s been a dull few months. My government can’t decide on its > lockdown regulations, freelance opportunities are dwindling, and I just > tore my abdominal wall. So it’s a no-brainer that I c” >

    • Wow, congrats Michelle! Hope you’re doing fine in the land down under. Been seeing your social media posts and I think this creative project might be a great outlet to deal with the crap of the real world (I myself am doing this here lol).

      Can’t seem to access your blog though. Make sure you share it with me, all right? Wishing you all the best with your writing journey!

  5. You think you were an idiot in your twenties ’cause you didn’t care? Well, I really think I was an idiot in MY twenties for caring too much. Always on my toes, working, taking up responsibilities and just… angry at my struggles, most of them I can’t even remember now. It now seem simply stupid to be that stressed out. So, I guess you can imagine why this post spoke directly to me.
    I’m so glad I landed here and got to read this. :)

    • Lol I guess no matter what we do, we’ll always think of our younger selves as stupid. Kinda takes the pressure off the present though, don’t you think?

      I’m glad you landed here too!

  6. Ouch! I’m sorry to hear about your abdominal wall. I hope your healing progresses smoothly and that your car decides to live.

    Thanks for sharing your reflections from memory lane with us. I too often look back to the past at a time when I felt I had time and long for it. Sometimes I also berate myself for not using that time better, but then I remember that it was enjoyable because I wasn’t busy and pressured. So in a way, not using my time wisely was useful because it gave me memories to enjoy in retrospect as I continue onward.

    • Yeah, you know what they say, time enjoyed is never wasted, so there’s always a silver lining no matter how you look at it. Thanks for the well wishes. Still feeling stiff in my midsection, and am not feeling 100%, but at least I can move freely now, which wasn’t something I could do during the first week.

  7. Hi Stuaet, its warm and nice to read your writings. Especially when you said that your twenties is sucked, because I am twenty three and it really sucked. Hha

    I just start my writings journey btw, its flattering to have you leave a comment on my blog though, I hope I can write as natural as yours.

    Thank you for sharing Stuart.

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