"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?"