Fear and Nostalgia
Uncle Morty is writing another post today. Please remember: he’s dead. He rambles. It can’t be helped. He’s also morbid and melancholy – which his doctor says is normal for a person in his condition.
His topic today is Fear and Nostalgia.
Here begins the blog post of Uncle Morty: (by Uncle Morty)
Now that I’m dead, I note something interesting about flesh - skin and bones and nerves
and meat, all connected, indissoluble - that something is FEAR.
I’m not talking about the delicious kind of fear with which we tease our bodies by riding roller coasters or seeing movies starring some of my friends. I’m talking about the underlying bodily fear that dogs our every move (when we’re alive – really there are some advantages to being on my side of the question).
The flesh filters reality through a rippling net of emotion and never stops to consider the subjectivity of its interface. One such emotion underlies all flesh at every moment: fear. Flesh is conditioned to provide for its own survival. To this end flesh interjects the fear of dissolution into every experience, though it may be mixed with joy, excitement, sorrow or any number of other emotions, perhaps even enhancing them with its sharp spice.
Many humans live lives of courage and honor in spite of it. In fact, one might posit that bravery could not exist without fear. But until the last nerve quivers to a final halt, you will never understand this most basic of human emotions…the underlying filter…the need for safety that helps you make every decision, illuminating life in sharp relief, light and shadow. It’s only after the clarity of death that you can see the pervasive nature of this pressing emotion.
And this basic fact of human nature, if unacknowledged, leads down strange pathways in search of safety. A grave danger to modern culture is the steady and hypnotic attraction of nostalgia. I see people speak in glowing terms of their own childhoods as golden ages of peace and superior child raising techniques. People speak of eras dead and gone as times of peace and prosperity, reaching heights of spirituality and manners – even when those times included the subjection of whole segments of the population as slaves or second class citizens or considered half the population to be property. Oh yes…your Puritans were pretty in the Thanksgiving pictures in your school books, but where are the pictures of them whipping the Quakers out of town? Burning down the villages of the indigenous people? These actions, at the time, were largely due to fear, perhaps self-induced by grasping for an unknown afterlife that poisoned the immanent. And fear hardens into hatred. (It's a terrible thing to sacrifice the present to the future. But that is a topic for another time.)
I’ve lived a long time, and I can tell you that the golden age is always beyond grasp…either in the past or the future. The golden past doesn't shine in the light of present. I would disabuse you of your fantastic notions that some point on the space/time continuum there existed a refuge from trouble. While a madness for the future is the purview of the radical, the mad optimists, those who rush past the present moment unheeding, trying to outrun and ignore the needs of the flesh, the past is the territory of the fearful, those who would protect themselves at all costs.
The past is safe because it's over. The children who tormented you have gone away. Your father – whose belt tore your flesh and left scars on your body and your mind – is gone. You may now well sympathize with his bewilderment, his inability to control life and the fear for his own flesh and the issue of his flesh, the terror and inadequacy against the crush of life that pressed him into punishment, into making the world small, wrapped in a cloak of anger he prayed would offer protection against all he feared. The times you feared you couldn't afford food or shelter have left your memory. The times your parents had those fears, may never have reached your level of consciousness.
Remember, there was much to fear in the past. Mistakes were made. Events could have gone very differently. That night you drove your car through the neighbor's fence because you were tired and you’d been up all night at a party? You could have killed someone, including you, by the grace of God or random chance, those mistakes left you standing. However it happened, the past has been lived through. It is now impermeable, a fortress of concrete and steel that cannot be assailed by the winds of change. Those fears and regrets are dead, having been swallowed in the river of time.
How many dystopias have been created, not by the breaking down of walls of the present to let the future flood in, but by trying to retreat into a past that never was?
Unfortunately pipe dreams of former times are more like a pipe bomb when tossed into the present. The past was once the present, rife with choices and possibilities, with more horror and happiness than any one person could experience. If you were transported to the past on the timeline and allowed to experience it again, the same fear would grip you; the same choices would have to be made.
There is no escape from fear only ways to avoid looking at it for a few moments. Indulge in nostalgia occasionally but don't try to drag the past into the present.