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13 Wistful Quotes About Nostalgia

Memory is a great gift. Calling back moments of joy, from a loved one’s wedding to a favorite concert, keeps us close to those happy experiences long after they end. Nostalgia, meanwhile, is a particularly potent form of memory, and one that tends to be bittersweet, as it often comes with a pang of sadness from longing to return to the past.

At its best, nostalgia lets us appreciate what we’ve had; in yearning for the way things once were, we understand how lucky we’ve been. That fond recollection can even be a call to action: When we remember those moments when we felt most alive, we might seek out more of that feeling, filling our lives with experiences to treasure.

It’s important, though, not to let remembering tip over into regressing, as memory can be an unreliable narrator. As Marcel Proust wrote, “Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”

Nostalgia can make us view the past with rose-colored glasses, glossing over the hard times while fixating on the good. While looking back is nice to do every now and again, too much of it can blind us to the good parts of our current lives, preventing us from living fully in the present.

Nostalgia, like many things in life, is a powerful force that may be best in moderation. Below, we’ve collected quotes that contemplate the blessings, drawbacks, and quirks of taking that sentimental stroll down memory lane.

How sad and bad and mad it was — / But then, how it was sweet!
Robert Browning

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I’d trade all of my tomorrows for just one yesterday.
Jenny Lou Carson

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Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.
Doug Larson

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Nostalgia is a powerful feeling; it can drown out anything.
Terrence Malick

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[Nostalgia] is a kind of evoking in my head of the memory of the first discovery … that moment of the fun and the thrill of it all.
Robert Wyatt

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Nostalgia is a sweet place for a poet and writer to be in. But it's an indulgence; a distraction. You can't live in a distraction.
Gulzar

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I always make a distinction between nostalgia and sentimentality. Nostalgia is genuine — you mourn things that actually happened.
Pete Hamill

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One is always at home in one’s past.
Vladimir Nabokov

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I am not among those who engage in nostalgia because I think that locks you into a moment in time without thinking about where you are, what needs to be done now.
Eleanor Holmes Norton

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Nostalgia is a very human trait.
Stephanie Coontz

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Nostalgia, more than anything, gives us the shudder of our own imperfection.
Emil Cioran

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We long to have again the vanished past, in spite of all its pain.
Sophocles

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Nostalgia is the only friend that stays with you forever.
Damien Echols

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Featured image credit: Allkindza/ E+ via Getty Images

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About the Author
Paola Bennet
Paola Bennet is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She writes a fortnightly newsletter that treasures the mundane, called Small Histories. Find her on Instagram @paolafbennet.
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