In recent years, there has been a resurgence of nostalgia in Singapore, from the food items we long to savour, the vintage furniture we desire to own and the buildings and memories we suddenly deem worth preserving.
Nostalgia itself can be described as ‘a sentimental longing for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations ’. The word itself being derived from the Greek word ‘nostos’ meaning ‘homecoming’.
It was not too far back during the 17th to 18th century that nostalgia was actually deemed a mental illness similar to that of schizophrenia . It was often associated with ‘ the pain a sick person feels because he is not in his native land ’, and was a condition frequently diagnosed to soldiers involved in wars far away from their homeland.
Yet therein nostalgia lies an impending danger, a chance that we may get trapped in an never-ending loop wherein we dwell upon theseidealized forms of the past so much so that we start losing interest in the present and more worryingly, the future.
In Singapore, a common coffeeshop talk often centres around how cheap stuff used to be, like the 50-cent roti prata and$1.50 mee pok. Many of us for that moment perhaps fail to realise the comparisons in terms of standard of living, inflation and many other social and economic factors that have developed over the years.
And if many of us really think about the bad moments and struggles we faced during that similar space and time, few would perhaps agree to relive these supposed nostalgic days.
It becomes perhaps even more worrisome when we start using irrelevant points of nostalgia to complain about our current lives. Such as how expensive food equates to expensive cars, which equates to expensive housing and how the Government has effectively ruined our lives as the years porgress.
All things said, nostalgia is not a bad thing altogether and is perhaps a healthy exercise for our minds to be able to associate things like a Beatles song with a first date, a soccer pitch with your first kick of the ball and a MacDonald’s where you had Sunday breakfast with your parents.
The important thing we should learn from nostalgia and history altogether is that we should learn to use it to improve our present and our future, that we be able to appreciate the good old days of rock ‘n’ roll in the 60s while acknowledging that it was also a time of political turmoil and a much lower standard of living.
So use nostalgia to your benefit, to help educate people and if you are really keen, get up and do something to help preserve something you deem worthy to protect like The Green Corridor.