Nostalgia for the Future

I wrote this two February’s ago, on the eve of what became the most stressful month of my life. Going through old essays today, I think this one has an interesting resolve. Hope you do too.


I just finished Joe Biden’s new book Promise Me, Dad with a sense of hope. He left with two parting ideas that positively intrigued me:

  1. “nostalgic about the future”
  2. (speaking of his views at 27) “I had come to understand that all good things are hard and take time.”

Both of those ideas are based on the value of hope – a belief that things will work out. I could not better articulate the feeling I have then within that first quote. Nostalgia for the future – undeserved positive association with something that has not happened and is not guaranteed. It’s something I think of when I feel the love for my future family, when I envision my home, even imagine the feel the stick shift of my car as if it’s in my sweaty palms today. It is a feeling of reminiscence as if I am a 90-year-old man sitting on an airplane rather than a 21-year-old man coming back from his first real job interview. It does not make any sense, it does not constitute a confidence, it should not be there. Yet, it persists. 

Reminiscence is often married to a sense of longing. Only this is a different longing now – when people reminiscence about the past, there is a hopelessness. Nothing can rewrite the past unless it renovates actions of the future. This new type nostalgia has purpose; it is something to drive toward – something that can be made a reality through effort. I have always been hopeful, but hope has its limitations. It is somewhat generalized and requires definition; it is something someone has but not something that is a guiding dog through life. Nostalgia for the future is the sense associated with tying hope to a vision rather than feeling it blindly. I’m thinking – I’m hoping – that it’s as powerful as it feels. 

There is an understanding that these dreams are good and satisfying. It does not matter how they got there; everyone has them and is slowly working toward them with everything they do. This is why I appreciate the second quote; it adds context to the nostalgia. It alludes to the idea that life many bestow good fortune and gifts upon you, but it will never let coincidence determine the good that drives your life. That is a choice that comes with conditions of struggle and effort – anything worth having is worth fighting for in the end. But it also comes with an understanding of patience; good things require time to develop and settle themselves. 

Times of ease make recognizing these ideas satisfying and simple – it is much more important to make sure these feelings are maintained in times of sorrow, loneliness, and despair. It takes strength and stubbornness to understand that the path of life is not seen easiest from the center. Lord, I pray for that strength. 

What I’m Listening to Right Now

Thanks for taking a sip,


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