Friday, 24 May 2013

So we beat on...

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

That is the final sentence from F Scott Fitzgerald's book 'The Great Gatsby'. In my humble opinion it is one of the finest 'last lines' in literature - economic in structure and oh so true.

Why do so many of us reminisce and frequently visit the land of nostalgia? This is not something that everybody that I know indulges in. Some people shun it at an act of neediness or a clear sign that the present is not fulfilling enough. I quite enjoy wallowing in the past, and find myself doing so as a celebration of happy times - notice I didn't use the word 'happier'. Today's good moments will, with the passage of time, become tomorrow's nostalgia. When I look back at my own cherished 'natural history' moments, very few are about rarity. They are largely about feeling at peace, at ease or at one with a place, with the plants, birds and/or insects becoming the characters that populate these special moments.All are celebrations of a time that I feel privileged to have experienced. I can look back through my notebooks and conjure up these memories with a joyous ease. A purring Turtle Dove, a winter Red Admiral or an unexpected Fly Orchid can all be stored away for a later date. We all have hundreds, if not thousands of these highlights hidden away, and not to revisit them is, in my mind, a waste.

I will leave the last words to another giant of literature, Spike Milligan, who wrote:

"Is it with the future uncertain and the present so traumatic that we find the past so comforting?"


  1. Perhaps nostalgia is beneficial because we can be selective about it's contents whereas we can not with the present or future.

  2. I suppose to some, the use of 'substances' to dull the present allows a certain filtering out of events. I think we are guilty of thinking too much about these things Andrew...

  3. Cheers Steve - I'm not exaggerating when I say that that is the best post I have read so far this year. The fact that I can treasure special memories from the past always gives me hope of being able to create and experience more in the future.

  4. Thank you for those kind words Jerry. It's good to hear from you - your lack of posting on your own blog has been noticed! Hope all is well with you and your family.

    1. Thanks Steve, yes as you know we've been rather busy lately on our exciting 'project' (to be resumed this weekend) but also Thomas did have a prolonged spell unwell. Following a nasty chest infection, he had asthma which threatened to go a bit naughty. It says something of our hospitals when the Dr decided it was safest to keep him out of ESH - so I lost over 30hrs from work helping to look after him (I seem to be the best at doing his chest physio and assisted coughing). Oh well, he's completely fine now - and like the rest of us would probably benefit from some much warmer weather! Changing the subject; it wasn't on the SBC sightings page but did you see Graham had a Red-footed Falcon at Holmethorpe over the weekend? Apparently it was heading north - probably right over my garden!!!

    2. I'm so glad that Thomas has overcome that nasty bout of asthma, and just in time for a summer in Norfolk by the sounds of it! That really is a vote of 'no confidence' in ESH - my experience of the National Health has been very positive, but I do hear horror stories...