Sunday, May 31, 2015

On Nostalgia

I've been thinking about the past a lot recently. Well, more than usual. Which is to say quite a bit, I guess. I'm always at least 75% buried in a previous decade, mentally.

I read an article last week on one of the bazillion lifehacker-type sites. The article was firmly embedded in the genre of life-advice articles, no doubt inspired by it working once, somewhere, for someone and sounding truthy enough to be worth committing to the internet for posterity.

It was about using nostalgia to boost you through creative slumps. Thinking about better times brings you into your comfort zone, reminds you of ideas and things which worked for you in the past. It's actually not bad advice at all.

So I've been digging through my archives, things I've worked on over the years. It's funny how each thing you write is tied firmly to a period. I go through phases--there's a definite archaeology to my creativity.

It's interesting to watch yourself grow over time. When you step back, look at the collection of stuff you've written, take a ten mile view, you see trends.

I can watch my focus grow as I age. When I was young, I used to pick up and abandon projects recklessly. As I've aged, I think I've begun to realize just how valuable time is. It's one of those resources which everybody takes for granted. You can spend it, but you can never get it back. As I've grown, I don't abandon projects as lightly.

I can also see my growing disenchantment with technology and my retreat from needless complexity.

The growing mild technophobia is one of those things which confuses people. There are basically two types of people in IT. There are people who love tech and can't get enough of it. They go home and do what they do at work, except even more so and they love it. They have houses filled with cutting edge tech. Their places are museums to modern computing.

I'm the other kind. When I get home, I don't even want to look at a computer. If I have a choice between getting another gadget or using something powered by a crank, I go with the crank. At the rate I'm going, I'll be using abacuses and living in a cave in the mountains by the time I'm 50.

This is obviously an exaggeration, but there's something about making a living taking care of the stuff behind the scenes which removes the magic from the process. I'm a worker at a sausage factory. The hot dog stand is not a place I want to be in my free time, so to speak.

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