"I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them." - Andy Bernard.
Nice quote, right? It’s covered in nostalgia as thick as a BP oil spill. Those good old days. How we yearn for them like a drug. Like something that’s been off the market for decades. Those best moments in our lives seem like an endangered animal, don’t they?
As far as the blissful goes, it’s an elusive fluke in our lives and maybe that’s why we try to choke the hell out of it, squeeze every bit of juice from its weight, any time it crosses our path.
But here’s the rub—we get nostalgic for the bad times, too.
Secretly and quietly, we utter a humble excitement for those cruel moments in our lives. Those horrible events that shaped us. Those painful seconds that stretch and fester into years like a corrosive acid that was put in place of our orange juice before we put the glass to our lips.
It even might be that, while we absolutely and rightly thrive to recreate the best of times, we know that if life were to only be a continual series of great moments, one after another, how would we appreciate them?
How could we know how truly great they are without the other side of that rusted coin?
I ruminate for hours, locked in a meditative state of irrevocable damage, on how pivotal and all-consuming the worst times in my life have been. They outnumber the good times by a margin of fifteen empty football stadiums and you know what? That’s OK. Because I hate football, anyway.
Before we go any further, I’ll admit, too, that there are levels to these bad times. And every single person goes through a varying degree. Some reprehensible times, some marginally annoying times. Some of those times that are so unspeakable, they’ve only been uttered quietly to oneself. To whatever degree, bad times are had by all and affect everyone differently.
The worst thing to happen to you is the worst thing to happen to you and no one, certainly not me, can change that.
At this point, you might be asking—Christ, is this guy ever going to let up and give up a smile? Flash his teeth a little?
And to answer that, probably not. It’s been downhill since I attempted to skewer that lovely "Office" quote we all so fondly admire.
But, if I do smile, it’s only because I’m reminiscing on the horrible. Recognizing it like a creepy uncle at a family reunion. Remembering that, at this moment in time, on this speck of fluttering, decaying space dust, I am here. Breathing. Having survived them all, somehow, by the skin of those teeth you so desperately want me to give up.
And here’s the kicker ...
The bad times are inevitably going to happen again and again and again. They are inescapable. Like a telemarketer who refuses to remove your number from their list. There is no end until the end and that’s probably the worst time of all, depending on how you’ve lived up until that point.
It’s the single constant in life that you can rely on.
Now, what do we do with this, admittedly brutal, foreknowledge? Do we retreat into the fetal position? Fall into despair? Lose grip on what ultimately brings us joy? Take a bubble bath with a toaster? Maybe find yourself a decent dealer with a connection to life-altering drugs? Perhaps.
Or, and this may be a radical proposition, we could embrace them.
With open, wounded arms, we could pull them in and try not to control them but cradle them like we were once cradled before self-awareness tore innocence from our souls. We are alive and that means we will experience the good, great, ugly, bad and imperfect.
We will undoubtedly be torn apart like a daisy in a hurricane. We will forever be faced with brutality and depravity, despair and unrelenting sadness. But, without them, the good times become so ordinary and mundane that they’re rendered meaningless.
And, to me, there is nothing more cruel than spending an eternity subjected to never-ending positivity.
So, I say let the bad times roll.
Be nostalgic for those haunting moments that ruined you and pushed you to your breaking point because right here, right now, you are alive and screaming a hellish melody with everything you’ve got.
You survived bad times before, and you will survive them again, but let them be—use them as fuel and clutch your brief but happiest moments like they’ll never darken your door again.
*Feature photo by Pixabay