What You Can’t Get Back

It took me quite some time to write this down. When I was first writing this piece, I tried to end it on a positive note. Something sweet, you know? But I wasn’t exactly happy with it because deep down in my heart I knew that the conclusion here was bittersweet.

Recently, while coming back to Canada after a long vacation back home, I realized something. As a kid, when I first started traveling, I loved going to airports. Airports were thrilling; they had this magic over me where I believed that they could fix everything wrong in the world. Looking at people going to their destinations or coming from a place I’ve never been to, was mesmerizing. If any adult is reading this, they’re probably shaking their heads. I know most adults hate airports because of how time-consuming and exhausting they are but, as a kid, fatigue is an alien concept.

As I was coming back this time, I realized that it had been quite some time since I felt that spark of curiosity and joy as I travelled. It was heartbreaking. Considering that I wrote an essay on my love for airports in high school, this was unsettling. I tried to look at things the same way I did when I travelled for the first time. I couldn’t feel the same way. Something was different and I needed an answer. I asked my sister how she felt about airports. She described feeling small in them. Now, this “small” is not a negative feeling. She felt small knowing that the world is so big and there is so much to explore and see. Sounds incredibly cliché but it’s true! She described pretty much what I felt. It feels like we had forgotten how to look at the world that way. Airports are just one example; try thinking back to all the places and things you loved as a kid or a teenager but now you can’t bring yourself to see or feel them the same way.

Yes, you do feel nostalgic about it all but it’s like being nostalgic for something that you know can never happen again. I thought that this was because of people losing their curiosity but it’s not exactly right. It is true that as we grow up, the curiosity curve starts dipping down. Now the reason why I feel sad about not feeling the same level of excitement as a kid or you feeling similarly is not that we are not curious people anymore. The curiosity to experience something for the first time can’t be recreated. Some experiences in life come and go. They don’t come back the same way again. It’s just a part of life. You can’t go to the park you went to as a kid and expect to feel the same level of excitement as a kid. Similarly, revisiting can give you nostalgia but not the same emotions as your first time.

What I want you to take away from this little piece is that some memories and emotions can’t be felt again. It was your first experience, curiosity has levels and you’ve crossed one. You cannot go back. This is where I want to tell you that instead of trying to replicate that, cherish it. Look back at it. The fact that you can’t exactly relive something again makes it meaningful and special. Don’t chase that nostalgia. Create new firsts and when they get old, look back at them fondly.   

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