I've recently come to realize something: very, very few people think clearly when they're reviewing the past. It's Nostalgia Syndrome--everything becomes incredibly good or tremendously bad--and all of a sudden, our past lives seem awfully black and white. We phase out the gray in order to achieve a better narrative. One more seamless and less messy than what actually happened.
It's one of the only ways we have of imposing order onto our lives: in any given moment of the present, we're far too aware of everything. Everything, including the things we wish we weren't. The stuff that, in the present, we want to wish away--the stuff that we hope might disappear if we ignore it for long enough. When we look back, we can ignore to our hearts' content...those things may as well not have been there.
But really, I don't think there are any moments in our lives that are absolutely perfect--not on their own. Not without help. And those moments are never perfect when we are in them, which makes us wonder when we look back why we didn't appreciate what we had at the magical moment we had it.
I suppose I've been thinking about this because recently I can't help but wonder if past versions of myself were happier than my present self can sometimes be. And in all fairness, I'm sure there were times when my past self felt much happier about life than my present self. Of course, I'm sure that there are times where my present self far outshines the happiness of my past self.
Nostalgia romanticizes the past: it acts as its own type of rose-colored filter. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I've always been me. I've always had strengths and weaknesses. Talents. I've always had happy times and sad times and mad times, it's just that I don't want to remember being sad or mad--so I usually choose not to. Don't most of us? We want to be our best selves, so we remember our best selves...and we forget the best selves we remember are a product of editing and some good mental production values.