Nostalgia, and its worth

(Joan and Denis – I wrote this on Sunday, then decided not to post it. I changed my mind in the middle of tonight but think I will remove it when you have both seen it. But I wanted to say, “thanks”)

This post is a big thank you, Denis and Joan. I have been having a lovely couple of days, triggered by Denis with his story of his schooldays which included a Gypsy Tap and then his reference to the Mills Brothers, through Joan’s Canadian Threestep and Pride of Erin all the way to Charles Aznavour and last, but far from least, Al  Martino. The capacity to indulge in nostalgia has never been as great as it is now with such easy access via computers and tablets (very different “tablets” from those of the days of nostalgia) and moreover they reproduce accurately what happened.

I have never been one to indulge in romanticised memories to any great extent, despite knowing as a child psychologist that if one is spending money on children it is far better to do things than to collect objects. Why is it important to do things? To create concepts and memories.

I have always been enthusiastic about living in the present. But the last twenty years have been quite strange in this regard. I have found it dangerous to go back to the past. I try to reduce anxiety and any planning about the future by not dwelling on the past. I limit myself quite severely in the keeping of mementoes. Perhaps this began at first because, after my father suddenly died, my very sweet and fun loving mother plunged headlong into dementia. But it is mostly because, not too long after she died I discovered that my happy life with my nuclear family was fabricated on deception. In the revelations and aftermath I lost some I had counted on as long time good friends

Much of my life since that devastating discovery has been happy. I have four wonderful children and it has been a delight to see them grow into beautiful, responsible adults with families of their own. I have been lucky enough to have had an, at times inspiring, job with wonderful colleagues. My husband died five years ago at home here with some peace and I think some contentment at last. But I have still not been able to trust the past.

But then, yesterday, we started that mental dancing of old dances and listening to old songs, in a context that was different, among new, different sort of friends.

Today, on my walk with the dog, the grass seemed  greener, the purple flowers were more purple and even the dandelions were smiling. 

I can literally say to you Denis and Joan, “Thanks for the memory”.


About Anne Powles

I am retired from paid employment. During my working life I have been variously and sometimes contemporaneously, wife, mother of four, lawyer, teacher and psychologist. I have also been a serial education junkie. As are we all, I have been an observer of the world around me. Here I have recorded some of my memories, observations and theorisings.
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1 Response to Nostalgia, and its worth

  1. I was a little puzzled at first why you might have had second thoughts about publishing this on your site, but with second thought on my part, I now imagine some of the reasons for your reticence. I would suggest though that you leave it here, even if you decide to re-edit it slightly to remove anything bothering you too much, but there is one thing at least you must leave here for people:

    …if one is spending money on children it is far better to do things than to collect objects. Why is it important to do things? To create concepts and memories.

    And yes – most definitely yes – something I know more keenly now than ever before, though I’ve said it countless times in the past three years – live in that slice of time that we call the present, thickened for extra gratification like good toast. Carpe Diem.

    Thanks, Anne.

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