Victus Spiritus



03 Sep 2009

Is there something you find yourself longing for from your past? Perhaps a recent experience, or even a smell induced a strong emotional memory or longing.

Today I had the opportunity to experience an older part of an online game I have played off and on for a few years (World of Warcraft). While thinking back of all the times friends and I had run through that particular dungeon, I perceived a strong sense of nostalgia for the way things had been. I pondered, how can a virtual sandbox induce such a deep emotion in people?The answer of course was not in the content, but in the shared experience.

Our memories, imperfect and wonderful, intertwine events where we connect to other people through shared challenges, triumphs, and celebrations. The strength of our nostalgia is not in recreating the former events, living in the past isn't healthy or productive. But instead reminding us of where we come from, who we are, and where we want to go. Much of who we are is our memories, for not only do they remind us what we have done, but they weigh heavily in our future choices.

Any activities that allow us to connect and bond with friends old and new, provide a positive outlet for the basic human need of belonging. What some call a distraction, is actually a refuge to others. If you can envision a bright and wonderous future for yourself and loved ones, I suspect you can experience a chronological reverse of nostalgia. In this case you would feel emotional expectations connected to activites that lead you to a healthy and beautiful future.