Nostalgia for Fun and Profit

One of my favorite assignments in design school involved going through my old class work and re-appropriating something I had done before into something new. I took old photographs and turned them into new album covers. A once-glorious illustration became a newly-glorious social poster. A really-quite-bad infographic became a really-quite-funny t-shirt.

The idea of reaching back into your near- or distant-past for inspiration can be taken beyond scrapping old projects for new raw materials. Case in point: I’m in the process of selling off everything I own, and my trusty old guitar is sitting in the middle of my living room (which has become Purgatory for my items in transition).

I hadn’t played my guitar since I moved nearly a year ago. Pulling it out of the closet, however, brought everything back, and before long I was jamming and strumming and plucking and having a grand old time (until the next day, when I realized my old calluses were gone…ouch!).

This happens fairly frequently with my old writings, as well. Every once in a while I’ll come across and old poem or short essay, which reminds me that I was at one time a professional writer and that perhaps I should utilize that skill set more frequently.

Don’t even get me started on the perpetually lost-then-found Frisbee (75 grams…Ultimate Frisbee regulation size…oh yeahhhhh) that floats around my closet space.

The point is that we all have skills and personal effects that at one point were at the center of our universe, but have now been squeezed between the Boyz II Men cassettes and plastic harmonica case for so long that they’ve been all but forgotten.

Take a look around. Go through old drawers, closets, bags and jacket pockets.

Check in on your old files, archived hard drives and ancient mix CDs.

Call up a friend from high school, email your preschool teacher or flip through the pages of a forgotten favorite young adult fiction novel.

These are all things that have contributed to making you who are you, and who you will become. Taking the time to remember them could act as a catalyst for you, make the long path you’ve traveled to get where you are more distinct, or maybe just be a lot of nostalgic fun.

Worst-case scenario: you’ll find some old Beanie Babies to sell on eBay. Score!

14 comments

  1. I recently dug up my old journals and it’s been SO interesting looking through them. I’m learning so much about myself (and — bonus! — my therapist is loving it too). Next week I’m having lunch with an old friend and I’m really excited to see what comes of that. Great post!

  2. I recently dug up my old journals and it’s been SO interesting looking through them. I’m learning so much about myself (and — bonus! — my therapist is loving it too). Next week I’m having lunch with an old friend and I’m really excited to see what comes of that. Great post!

  3. Sounds like my life right now. I currently Have Alf, Gumby, & a yamaha keyboard up on Craigslist. Any takers?

  4. Sounds like my life right now. I currently Have Alf, Gumby, & a yamaha keyboard up on Craigslist. Any takers?

  5. Lately, I connected with some of my old friends from back in junior college. We had been out of touch for about 5-6 years. While I thought it might be awkward, it was quite a blast catching up with them! It’s great because you know that it’s been a few years and these few years have grown each of us, so everyone’s reconnecting at a total different level. It’s an amazing feeling.

  6. Lately, I connected with some of my old friends from back in junior college. We had been out of touch for about 5-6 years. While I thought it might be awkward, it was quite a blast catching up with them! It’s great because you know that it’s been a few years and these few years have grown each of us, so everyone’s reconnecting at a total different level. It’s an amazing feeling.

  7. I have all my jewellery from the past couple decades – and some of it is absolutely awful! But at the time, they were the really “in” things. I just can’t believe I wore some of the stuff, but it makes me laugh to have thought I did. I’ll probably be thinking the same in twenty years of the stuff I’m wearing now.

  8. I have all my jewellery from the past couple decades – and some of it is absolutely awful! But at the time, they were the really “in” things. I just can’t believe I wore some of the stuff, but it makes me laugh to have thought I did. I’ll probably be thinking the same in twenty years of the stuff I’m wearing now.

  9. @Positively Present: Journals! Such great repositories of old thoughts! I go through my old journals from time to time and find the same (and if I had a therapist, I’m sure they would be just as thrilled!).

    @nicolemariemacd: Oh wow, Alf. I just had a flashback.

    @Celes: Connecting with old friends is great…amazing how much people can change in so short a time, and when you aren’t seeing the little differences every day. It’s like meeting completely new people, but ones that you have enough of a history with so that you can be personable right away.

    @I TAKE OFF THE MASK: Have fun! Let me know what you discover :)

    @Laurie: The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh? Which song of today will be tomorrow’s Macarena?

  10. @Positively Present: Journals! Such great repositories of old thoughts! I go through my old journals from time to time and find the same (and if I had a therapist, I’m sure they would be just as thrilled!).

    @nicolemariemacd: Oh wow, Alf. I just had a flashback.

    @Celes: Connecting with old friends is great…amazing how much people can change in so short a time, and when you aren’t seeing the little differences every day. It’s like meeting completely new people, but ones that you have enough of a history with so that you can be personable right away.

    @I TAKE OFF THE MASK: Have fun! Let me know what you discover :)

    @Laurie: The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh? Which song of today will be tomorrow’s Macarena?

  11. I have several Beanie Babies to get rid of when I go back to my birthtown in 3 days and clean out my old closet. Pretty sure they aren’t worth anything now though. I wonder what else I left in there…

  12. You’ve inspired me to go trawling through my Mac’s many folders, because as much as I’m not one in the physical world, I do a pretty good job of hoarding in my virtual space. There must be at least a ton of old writing there for me to dust off and rework. Blog post galore…woot! ;-)

Comments are closed.