Have you ever had so much fun that you didn’t want the experience to end? I’m talking about one of those nights that will go down in the annals of champagning and campaigning lore (shout-out to Jalen and Jacoby).
What do you think was more responsible for your incredible experience – the event, the location, or the people?
Either way, many of us have been visited by the Ghost of Revelries Past at one point or another. He comes to us during nights of extreme FOMO and reminds us of past glory. He teases us using our memories and innermost desires to entice us into attempted reenactments of said past glory.
Yes, chasing ghosts is a real thing, my friend.
Every time you revisit that club where you danced the night away, or you visit the bar where you met that mysterious stranger who blew your mind that one time, you’re chasing a ghost. You’re trying to recapture the energy, the emotions, and the excitement you felt during the night/experience in question.
One of the greatest tautologies of life is that all things must come to an end. For better or for worse, everything meets its end. The question shouldn’t be about how we can recreate something magical. The real question should be about whether or not we should even try.
Do we do ourselves a disservice by not letting our memories rest peacefully? More so, are we tainting these memories by pushing them back to the forefront for one more go-around?
I’ve spent many an evening chasing ghosts, and I’ve always come away disappointed. The problem with chasing ghosts is that you can’t catch a ghost. By their very nature, ghosts don’t abide by the same laws of physics that we do, so how could you ever hope to catch one?
So many things would have to perfectly align to recreate those glorious nights that it would be impossible to accomplish. Think about how many things had to happen for you to even be here at this very moment. Now, imagine how many pieces needed to align just for you to have the initial experience you’re currently chasing. It’s incomprehensible.
It’s difficult to let those amazing nights die, right? We go to after-hours spots, diners, chill in the street, or whatever else, and we hold onto those nights for dear life in hopes that they never end. What can be more intense than that?
Everyone deserves the chance to travel. Hell, I believe everyone should be required to travel outside of the borders of their respective hometowns, states, and countries.
Sometimes, you get lucky, and you travel to a place that speaks to your soul. I’m talking about a location so alluring that you give serious thought to the notion of canceling your life back home and risking it all on a whim.
I’ve had that happen to me a few times. I always have trouble distinguishing between falling in lust and falling in love with a location.
Love and lust are two sentiments that dance along the same razor-thin line and are easy to confuse. I lust after palm trees, beach weather, the ocean, gentle breezes, great parties, and island vibes. I love stability, high-speed internet, a proper gym, moderately priced goods, movie theaters, and a live music scene all within a reasonable distance.
The hard part for me is finding a locale that has all of those features. I’ve visited many locations with some, but never with all.
I fell hard for South Florida’s nightlife and low prices, but that proved to be nothing more than an unsustainable one-night stand. Thailand’s food and climate had me ready to throw caution to the wind and go all-in on that mai bpen rai lifestyle, but there wasn’t enough stability for me (more on that another time). The island vibes and beautiful beaches of the Canary Islands made me want to kick my feet up and forget about tomorrow, but everything there was too expensive for my taste.
I had an amazing time in each place and have reasons for wanting to return to all of them.
Think about your top I’m-done-with-adulting destinations. What was the draw that made you want to return? Did you plan on returning for quality of life purposes, or was that nightlife so crazy that you need another bite at the apple?
Travel is a beautiful thing that often delivers a fantastic escape from our daily lives, but how do you know whether or not you’re chasing a ghost by returning to any of them?
I believe we underestimate the value of people. I don’t just mean your friends, family, or co-workers. Even strangers help to create the ambiance and environment around us. They unknowingly share their energy and mood with others around them, and that creates the social atmosphere.
Think about a typical party. The people who appear to be having the most fun usually attract a crowd. Why? Because a person’s mood is contagious and people tend to be attracted to someone who has positive energy.
The last couple of years have taught me how important people are to how I experience things. Whenever someone asks me for the best place I’ve visited, my answer is always Thailand. It wasn’t because of the beautiful temples, the mouth-watering food, the amazing weather, or the stunning scenery. It was because of who I shared the experience with.
As I’ve mentioned before, I lived in Thailand, so I had plenty of time to have memorable experiences there. The one memory that always sticks out about Thailand is how much I didn’t want to stay there after my initial year.
I absolutely loved Thailand, so why didn’t I want to stay there?
While I was in Thailand, I was part of a large group of ex-pats who hung out together, partied together, ate together, and some worked together. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I treasured the energy of that group. I didn’t come away with many people who I’d consider close friends, but that didn’t diminish the roles of any of the others in my eyes.
The Most Elusive Ghost
As the clock wound down on my year in Thailand, I came to realize that I was afraid of chasing ghosts. A big part of why I chose not to stay in Thailand was because I was afraid that nothing else could live up to the year I had just experienced. I would have to get to know a whole new crop of people and recreate whatever bonds had already been established and then broken by all of the departures.
At that point in my life, I hated starting over, so chasing that particular ghost was absolutely out of the question.
People prove to be the most elusive ghosts of all. Have you ever been out with a group of friends and one of them suddenly has to leave? Whether they’re the center of attention or a fringe member of said group, that person takes some of the collective energy with them when they leave. It never is quite the same after that person leaves, is it?
Well, I experienced that on a much grander scale.
We all have our reasons for why we revisit past haunts. Be it for the people, the location, or past experiences, something keeps us coming back for more.
For those of us who struggle to stop chasing ghosts, perhaps learning to live in the moment is the simplest way to stop, but how do we do that? Many things in life are easier said than done, and this is one of them.
I think it comes down to a matter of acceptance. Accept that even though you had a great time, you will never be able to reproduce that moment. It’s etched in time and will be immortalized in your memory. Accept that it’s up to you to create new moments and new memories.
Chasing ghosts keeps us from truly enjoying the best of what life has to offer. You have the power to tell the Ghost of Revelries Past that you don’t want to play his game anymore. Take control of that, and you won’t feel the need to look back anymore.
A Jaded ’80s Baby