Peter de Vries famously said in 1959 that “nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.”
For about six weeks now I have been mulling over a thought that I awakened with one morning. It was the day that my son and I were to leave on our whistle stop tour of Scotland.
“We have a choice, we can either go back to a place, or go forward to it.”
It puzzled me for a while as I lay in the quiet of the early morning. We planned to visit some familiar places and others for the first time. I had dubious expectations of Skye and was fairly neutral about John O Groats, I love Appin and Morar, Inverness and Fort William so these were to be high points because of happy associations.
As the wheels continued to turn in my head the car wheels carried us off, Westbound and happy.
With my love of Instagram over recent years there has continued to grow a heart of exploration. As a single person, a couple and a family I have loved visiting hundreds of places over my lifetime. Some are one time experiences whilst others are revisited at intervals.
A name dropped into conversation can evoke joy or revulsion. My niece mentioned Cromer yesterday and suddenly it was a hot summer in the late seventies, tinged with a claustrophobic episode inside the steeple. We returned later when I was older and I charged up to the roof without missing a beat.
And that simple word crystallized this thought.
Every time we visit a place can be with fresh eyes. Those sobbing moments in that tower were replaced with joyful memories on a return visit. I can still feel the terror of a 5 year old boy but the joy of the 7 year old has replaced its sting.
Travelling is a tremendous opportunity that our generation has been given, my grandparents hardly went anywhere. But as we head inexorably to our final destination we have a great opportunity to rewrite history with new memories, and push forward rather than always looking back.
I will always return to certain places, even now there is a plan formulating in my mind to visit Nairn. No longer do I seek out old haunts, now I go to enjoy those moments as me on “this” day.