It can happen in a song, and it can happen in a movie. There are so many different ways that it can hit you like a ton of bricks when you least expect it, and this is part of the reason that we believe its effect is so powerful. But let’s consider the music example for a second… A song comes on the radio that you haven’t heard in about eight or ten years. This was a song that you used to listen to with your best friends from high school, and when we say that you used to listen to it, we mean that you listened to it all the time. Now that you’re listening to it once more, how does it make you feel?
Now we’re getting a little bit closer to the bottom of what the idea of nostalgia is all about. The fact of the matter is, nostalgia has a lot to do with emotional connections. After hearing the song you haven’t heard in eight or ten years, the one you used to listen to with your friends all time, you are now feeling something profound. You aren’t just hearing the song… you’re also feeling the memory that the song is reminding you of. Because that’s the beauty of things from the past – they all have some sort of a reference of emotional connection to something, or someone else in our life that is very important to us.
The pictures here are no different. When you see a young picture of Heather Locklear or Katharine Ross, you may say to yourself, “Wow, I remember her… I’d forgotten what she looked like back then.” But that’s just something you say on the surface. What’s happening underneath is actually something beautifully intrinsic within your emotions. The visual stimuli of the image is actually transporting you back to your life as it was back then, and in turn, everyone you were with as well. How does it feel?