It’s funny, over time, how much changes and how much stays the same. I’ve seen this in a few ways recently. The first was coming across an old to-do list saved on my computer. Reading through the list, which I wrote in the summer of 2016, was like taking a trip back in time.
Some of the tasks are things I finished years ago—like ordering a case for my laptop, enrolling in my first year courses and logging into a certain email account on my phone (which, apparently, required a special note on my to-do list). Others are things that made me laugh, because they’re still items on my present-day to-do lists: notes to read, work out and plan new blog posts.
The list was an interesting reminder that some things that once seemed so important to me are now just items of the past; and that other things, like this blog and my writing, have remained consistently important to me over time.
A few days after I found that list, I was hit with another gust of nostalgia when I visited my high school with one of my best friends. I had been back a few times to see my younger sister in her band concerts, but I hadn’t walked through the halls since I graduated two years ago. It was really nice to reconnect with the teachers who made such a positive impact on me during my time in high school.
In some ways, it also felt really strange to be back—to walk past my old locker and my old homeroom classroom. I walked past the kitchens where I baked with friends after school for a charity bake sale; I peered into the old Student Council room where I’d spent countless lunches.
I remembered all the things that were important to me while I was a student there, and I realized that, the moment I entered university, a lot of those priorities shifted. High school was all about preparing for university. But university is all about preparing for the “real world” (which I write with quotation marks because, really, aren’t we in the real world all the time, anyways?). Like my to-do list showed, while some things have changed in my life, a lot of the goals and values that I hold close to my heart have not changed since the time I was in high school.
The other thing that’s made me feel nostalgic recently is, well, the air around me. You know that beginning-of-spring-breeze that smells vaguely of flowers and mostly of change? Whenever one season fades into the next, I find myself thinking about the last time the air felt like this. Last year the flowers bloomed earlier where I live. I remember this because of the photos I took last year of startlingly bright pink magnolia flowers against an orange, yellow and pink sunset.
This morning, I headed outside to take some more spring photos. The magnolia tree isn’t in bloom yet, but some of the tulips and daffodils are. The green leaves are just starting to poke out on the trees. They’re a reminder of what’s to come, at a time when I’ve been thinking so much about what has already happened.
The saying “April showers bring May flowers” is a nice way to justify miserable grey weather, in hopes of future budding blossoms. But it’s also a reminder that our past experiences shape who we are in the present—and that, while over time many things can change, some things never will.