Driving from a multi-story car park yesterday, I flicked the radio on. "Rocky Mountain High" was playing.
Now, a confession: I'd never heard the song before.
I know, but sometimes these classics just elude us for a while. (I'm still biding my time before I watch "The Godfather" trilogy).
Anyway, the song was playing, the sun was shining and my window was wound down. I had just supped a large latte from Costa Coffee and all was well with the world.
Except for one thing: I started to analyse my mood.
Why was I feeling happy?
And the answer came just as quickly-nostalgia. Even though I'd never heard the song, memories of grainy, sunny American landscapes were flooding my head and I wondered why, and perhaps even more importantly, why did this seem comforting?
I've never been to the USA. All of the information about the place, is filtered through the various media of films, TV shows, radio, internet and the actual face-to-face encounters with a few Americans I've met.
So why did I have a warm, fuzzy nostalgic moment based on a song I'd never previously heard?
The best I can come up with is that somewhere inside, a version of America is in-built into my psyche. It's an America that I control from afar, that exists intertwined with my childhood and somehow negates any danger that I've seen or heard into a controllable, compartmentalised past.
For example, I remember having family friends staying with us (on one of the few occasions that they did), on the day John Lennon was shot in New York. I was seven at the time, and the memory of hearing and watching the news, is filtered by the good memories of that visit and other times together.
The past, it seems, is one thing that we can attempt to keep under our control. We can manipulate it in our minds and it can seem to become whatever we want it to be. Others may argue that this subconscious editing is evidence that the past actually controls us.
What do you think? Do you control your past our does your past control you?