While scanning through my Facebook feed the other day, my eyes stopped in horror on a friend’s photo status: “It’s a sad day today…Every piece of pottery I made in high school fell off a shelf and broke,” she wrote. Sure enough, the photo showed shards and larger pieces of ceramic strewn across her floor, lying in smithereens like rubble after an explosion.
I tried to empathize and only felt grief. I imagined my most treasured writings being torn to pieces, burned or lost, and my forehead instantly wrinkled with discomfort. It’s not easy to see treasured things come to an end or be destroyed.
We like to hold on to things, because things hold memories.
But memories—while often lovely—can be dangerous. Nostalgia can consume us, make reality seem less glamorous than “the good ol’ days,” and keep us from pushing forward and creating or exploring new things. Sure, nostalgia offers meaning and comfort when times are boring and dreary, but why do we wallow in what once was? What good does that bring?
After my initial sadness for my friend subsided, I scrolled below the photo to read the comments. There were the obvious “sorry” and “that’s awful” posts, but one in particular caught my attention:
“Gosh — so sorry Marisa! You’ll have to create some new memories and pieces of work!” -Sylvia
Sylvia’s right on the money. In fact, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Though simple, her advice calls us to change the way we handle loss in general…to see it not just as an end, but as a beautiful beginning. Loss is emotionally taxing, but it brings the opportunity to make new memories. Not that these statements make loss any easier, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded that in this life, there’s always hope, a chance for rebirth and a chance to recreate.
Next week, I will watch my college undergraduate experience come to a final end. But when I cross the stage and officially graduate, you can bet I’ll be thinking about what’s next—not about what used to be.