Are You A Nostalgic Person?

For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with the idea of living in a different time period. It’s why old movies are the soundtrack to my life, and I’m a complete and utter sucker for anything classic or timeless. Give me a tune by Django Reinhardt or an Ingrid Bergman movie, and I will sit silently and contently for as long as you’d like.

I seem to always be nostalgic for people, places and things that I was never even alive for: Which is why this month’s cover illustration on The New Potato is a throwback to the old Hollywood studio lots, and its quote “You have to live spherically, in many directions,” is from one of my all-time favorite directors – Federico Fellini.

Sure, it’s easy to be nostalgic in the day and age that we’re in, but just as the Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris hits home: Most people have always believed a different time period than the one they’re living in was better. So, where does that leave me? It doesn’t seem like my nostalgia is anything out of the ordinary.

There was a recent realization I came to after watching the newest season of Stranger Things last week. For those who haven’t seen it: It’s set in the quintessential 1980’s. Think E.T. The Extra Terrestrial or The Breakfast Club. The show’s creators  – The Duffer Brothers – really took things one-step further this season by truly placing us in the 80’s. Rather than last season, which evoked the feeling of the decade but still had the show in its own sort of vacuum in a sense, this season really placed the audience directly into that decade through incredible details in production design and historic nuances as small as a Walter Mondale sign (the man who ran against Ronald Reagan) outside middle-class suburban homes.

As I watched, I became more and more convinced of this one important fact: Nostalgia, and that deep-seated (and sometimes painful) desire to be in a different time and place, is essential in kick-starting creativity. No matter what your profession is.

Matthew Weiner’s creative masterpiece Mad Men was a perfect example of this: He obsessed over every detail that came with accurately placing his audience in a certain time and place. And I think that the deeper the dedication to the time capsule, or the more nagging the nostalgia is, the more creative one can get. Whether that means drawing influence from a bunch of different time periods or throwing yourself into just one like a method actor would.

This “creative nostalgia” can come in so many forms besides entertainment, whether it’s a journalist drawing from history to make a point about the present, a scientist taking a tip from what Newton did when approaching a new experiment, or a Valedictorian quoting a speech from a former president.

The moment I stick myself in “today’s reality,” and no other place, is the moment I suddenly feel devoid of inspiration and creativity. I personally hope that’s what Fellini meant by living spherically; that if we’re not all constantly time traveling in our heads, and drawing conclusions and inspirations from that, then we’re not fully living. That’s just a guess, though.

The next line of Fellini’s quote, which sadly couldn’t fit at the top of the site, is “Never lose your childish enthusiasm – and things will come your way.”

I think nostalgia is most definitely a childish kind of enthusiasm: It’s a little bit like playing make-believe. And perhaps if we all did more of it, we’d find ourselves more and more inspired and creative; or at least we’d all just have more fun.

Is there a time period you’re nostalgic for? I’d love to hear from you!

33 thoughts on “Are You A Nostalgic Person?

    1. It was so good to see my thoughts re nostalgia in your article.
      Sometimes, you think you are daydreaming too much.
      The past is so very much a part of us and nostalgia is good for everyone…….I think.

  1. Love your article, it really spoke to me. All I seem to dream of is the style from the 4os to 70s but the empowerment of all the strong women today who inspire me. Thank you for all your great writings. xox.

  2. Holy mackerel this was a great story and mirrors what’s going on with me right now. I have recently found I can escape the 21st century by watching old b/w westerns. A genre I hated most of my 66 years! It not only keeps me sane by weaning me off 24/7 news cycle.. I actually look forward to the daily line up on the family channels. Gunsmoke…..Bonanza…..Wagon Train and The Rifleman. I wont be listening to c/w music however.. I promise!.

  3. Really enjoyed this article as I can totally relate. I’m very nostalgic for time periods that I didn’t even grow up in. I also agree that we have to live spherically to feel fulfilled.

  4. Insightful and provoking, almost romantic. To be honest it touched my heart and caused my to drift back in time and long for the the what I think might have been simpler times. Thank you for inspiring a few old memories.

  5. Insightful and provoking, almost romantic. To be honest it touched my heart and caused my to drift back in time and long for what I think might have been simpler times. Thank you for inspiring a few old memories.

  6. I’m nostalgic for the 1970s and 80s. I remember when you could go to a house party and not have to worry whether or not any of the party goers would just start shooting. It was all about having a good time. I’m nostalgic about my grandmother’s peach cobbler.

  7. I love the medieval era of Knights and Ladies, beautiful flowing dresses, honor, valor, and all that! Nice post to get our imaginations flowing !

  8. I reveled residing in Vegas where I turned seven, with the entrance to my second grade classroom was from under a veranda leading into an open courtyard. No need for halls since the weather is nearly always sunny and clear.

    On a few occasions, my father drove us down the Las Vegas Strip where the lights lit the night and the “hitchhiking cowboy” became an indelible, joyful childhood memory!

  9. Memories of childhood comforts touch my heart and soul. Repurposed fabrics bring life back to the heavy woolen blankets of my youth (think Wintervacht blanket coats). Canvas totes made of old sailcloth sing the songs of the sea. You can almost hear the whispers en Francaise of those who dined on fine French table linens now made in to placemats. (made and seen in small shop in Portland, Maine.) The threads that bind us together run deep and your article supports the importance of remaining rooted in all that was good in the past as a springboard for creativity in these current days of so much that is not good. Thank you for reawakening my creative spirit!

  10. i love all of your writing, thank you for keeping your thoughts succinct ,interesting, and down to earth.

    for me, the 20s, 30s, or 40s. give me the party dresses. the jazz. the suits.

  11. I’m on the same channel, creatively, as my entire entertainment career for over 30 years is the performance of “classic stars.” In that, I mean 30 years ago, I got a license and insurance to perform as a galaxy of classic stars from Music, Movies, TV, literature, politics and sports from all periods of history, for all manner of special events. I’m known as “Vegas Tributes TM ” for my actor – celebrity stars, and “The Martini Men TM” for my variety of musical tribute performances. Yes, I’m always in a “nostalgic” frame of mind!”

  12. Great article, that really hit home! I was a child in the 60’s, but wished later I could have really experienced the 60’s as a hippie 🙂 I never could understand why we couldn’t go to Woodstock, especially when it was being held on my 10th Birthday, and that was what I wanted…lol
    I was a teen in the 70’s, but still long for that time period more then any other. Mainly because they were the best years of my life. I am going as far as making my den not a 70’s themed room. I feel like it will make my life happier to be able to sit in a room surrounded by my past, but I also know that all the “things” in that room will not bring back any of the people that are no longer here, places that I have been, or things that I have seen, no matter how much effort I put into recreating those best years of my life.

    I too, once wished I had been alive in different time periods. Movies always influenced that for me. Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Waterloo Bridge, and so many other classic movies made me yearn to be in a different time. In the late 70’s there was a movie theatre in Boston that played Casablanca every week. And there was a restaurant next door, (I think it was next door), called; Casablanca, that was totally decorated to look like Rick’s!!
    My friend and I went to both quite often. I wanted so badly to meet a man that had the same passion and qualities that Rick Blaine possesed, but that never happened.

    I just wanted to share how much I enjoyed your article, and your love of nostalgia.

    1. I agree Lorrie, sometimes I play Casablanca just to have it on in the background! It’s one of my absolute favorites. I would have loved to experience that theater and restaurant.

  13. Today could have been extremely difficult for me. A sweet loving cousin of mine passed away this morning, after fighting the noblest battle with cancer. I will revisit our youth of the late 70’s and early 80’s so as to have stories to tell his young sons someday. I have always been nostalgic and sentimental as well. I have raised my 6 children to appreciate other periods of time for its culture, music, iconic figures whether artistic or political, and various contributions. I miss handwritten letters and admiring people’s unique styles. Wax seals make the anticipation even greater! I believe that living spherically means not only incorporating the past, appreciating the present, but also realizing that future generations will see the best and worst of our lifetime as a necessary and significant piece of history. We can only hope that our future generations will romanticize about the lifetime we are lucky enough to live in…

    1. Thank you for sharing Gina, and so happy this could make your day better! I always think that too, that I hope in the future this is a time period people are nostalgic for.

  14. I loved your piece of writing. I have often thought how about how good it would be to live in a different time zone. For me it would probably be the very late 40’s going into the 50’s. After the second World War, everyone seemed to start living a different life and the economy changed and new products were introduced to aim at making people’s lives more manageable. As a woman, I would have loved the dress style and I thought the cars then were absolutely classic. Yes that’s the time period which would have done it for me. Happy Days!

  15. Wow….you took the words right out of my mouth..Want to go back to my fairy tale childhood…I long for simpler times, simpler life……now I sound like my Mother…..which is a good thing!!!!!!My daughter leads a very fast paced life and she is beginning to understand what I’m feeling..she longs for a simpler life too..and memories of her childhood….she is beginning to sound like me!!!!!! What more could I ask for!!!!!

What did you think?We want to hear from you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *