I have trouble because whenever I think of something old I feel a sense of impending loss. Traditions being lost. Animals growing extinct. Loss loss loss! But maybe it’s OK after all, because the current present will become the old some day. So as time passes there will always be more old to look back on. We can never RUN OUT of old. So instead of looking disapprovingly at the contemporary, we should see it as future cool old stuff.
Another way to think about it is that things only become old when they ARE old. When those pictures of old factories were taken or Billy the Kid or the first steam trains, that was just the present then. That was for them what today is, for us. Nothing special? Maybe instead of lamenting the passage of time, we should be thankful it doesn’t STOP.
There is one more thing, about this looking back affliction. What we look back on as “cool old stuff” is not or was not necessarily the totality of experience during its time. That is to say, we are looking back on it through a highly selective and much-distorted lens. Sure the 50s was a neat decade, with its rock and roll and refrigerators. But there was segregation too. It wasn’t ALL cool.