The Power of Nostalgia and How It Can Enrich Our Lives After 60
When this time of year rolls around, it usually triggers a wistful feeling, a sense of completion and a sense of loss. The summer has clearly fled; autumn is in full expression, and we stand, watching leaves fall, wondering what winter will bring.
The mornings are cooler, the days are shorter and shorter. It’s hard to avoid the feeling of shrinking away! All of Nature seems to be saying, “Stop, listen, think about what you have been, and wonder what you will become.”
Nostalgia Whispers the Passage of Time
At the same time, memories of other years come forth, whispering to us of the passage of time, and somehow we find ways to call forth comfort.
The season creates a vulnerable feeling and we want to find shelter from the storms of too much information, too many calls to action. Coziness is very appealing. Getting away from the hustle and bustle has a distinct allure!
Wasn’t it simpler before? Didn’t things make more sense ‘back then’? It’s easy to think so now, as the small trials of everyday life are forgotten, and what remains are the images of the things that brought satisfaction.
Work was simple. You did your job, and nobody expected it to be easy, but you knew what was involved and could know you had done your work. If you did your job well, you could reasonably expect that you would keep it.
We Are Living in New Times
Relationships were defined differently then, too. Many of us grew up expecting a certain set of rules would always govern our lives. As we have matured and lived our lives, we’ve seen those rules disintegrate, leaving us to figure out how to live in the new times.
The children… weren’t they really good, and so sweet – unlike the ‘brats’ of today? Or then again, perhaps they were not. Looking a little deeper brings back other memories, too.
Many nights were spent in a state of exhaustion, looking after a screaming child. We were always performing that juggling act that every mother does while working to satisfy the demands of the whole crew, hoping she will have the time to do something for herself ‘someday.’
Nostalgia Creates a Sense of Beauty and Satisfaction
This is that day. Nostalgia is a sweet thing, and a sad thing – at the same time. We look back and create a story that suits our needs today. It’s not the same story about the day we are looking back on, as the story that we were living on that very day.
No, it is the story that serves now. A sense of beauty and of satisfaction can come from nostalgia. It’s a nice place to visit, once in a while. It can help to create new awareness that in some cases, things can be simple again, that buying into the rat race mentality is not truly a necessity.
What was it about that time that appealed to you so much, as you remember it? Is there a way to express that same feeling today? That is the true function of a healthy sense of nostalgia. It gives a sense of continuity to experience. It is a doorway to meaning, and a way to create a story that is healthy.
Feeling the inevitable sorrow that accompanies memory gives a sense of completion to life. Once felt, the little – or not so little – tang of sadness can be let go, leaving behind the memories of what we have treasured.
Disregarding the petty – or significant! – irritations of the past serves a function for our emotions, too. It gives a sense of strength and of hope that we can get through this time. The light will return.
We Must Face Winter
Some things that we have treasured will not return, except in memory. Let your memories give you a sense of completion and comfort, as the winter season dawns upon us. Once we have gotten this far, the turning point is becoming visible.
Rain, snow, wind, cold… yes, these are on the way. If you live in the north, they are already part of every day. All of them are simply part of the turning of life, the vast dance in which we find ourselves.
Every journey around the sun brings us to the remembrance of the last time the season came about. And, we remember that this, too, is a time that is passing through; that we are passing through along with it.
Do you have memories of the past that bring back strong emotions? Do you think that nostalgia can enrich our present state of mind? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Betty Withrow is a creativity and life purpose coach, helping artistic and professional women to find a deeper engagement with their life processes, to use the skills and experience we have in creating a dynamic third-act life. Clarity of purpose, vivid life experiences, and a true sense of legacy are her special interests. She is the author of Prevail: Seven Keys to Create a Personal Victory.