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Nostalgic Memories Are Everything

What are the things that make life feel meaningful? What goals and choices lead to fulfillment? When tragedy and despair strike, how does one restore the sense that life can go on — that life is worth living? In an individualistic society such as ours, finding answers to such difficult questions, for some, can be mind-boggling. We can then ask ourselves what’s the point of even trying? 

In today’s America, we are increasingly disconnected from the deep family and cultural networks and encouraged to distrust and turn away from the traditional wisdom and guidance of our elders. And yet, the most critical clues to finding and sustaining meaning in life are often tucked away within our most cherished memories; the things most important, lasting, and considered to be the most lasting ethical principles.

Most people’s nostalgic memories involve intimate relationships, particularly when it comes to family, where we tend to focus on positive emotions. But, they can also include expressions of loss and sadness. 

Nostalgic memories can regularly feature cherished family gatherings, family vacations, weddings, the birth of a child, or grandchild, and religious rites of passage. At the same time, even seemingly minor social encounters can become sources if they are savored experiences that foster a deep connection. 

Nostalgia is a perfect guide to one living the “good life.” It’s a perfect compass for finding life’s true meaning while focusing the mind on what is most important: family, close friends, community, and the rituals and traditions that help preserve a social and cultural fabric that transfers meaning across generations.  Social media tries to distract us and keep us in a corner of suspicion and doubt while being dissatisfied with the present and anxious about the future. But those that keep themselves rooted in the past will always be reminded of what truly matters most in this life — love, connection, and community. Three things, that without a moral compass, will be impossible to experience no matter how hard we try. 

Nostalgia doesn’t simply remind people of a past filled with social connections, it brings us online with the social self, and isn’t it strange and quite surprising how we hold on to pieces of the past while we wait for our futures to show up? And remembering past experiences is not necessarily the remembrance of things such as they were. 

“How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

William C. Faulkner 

Dream on my dear friends,


1 Comment

  • Naomi
    Posted August 20, 2023

    What a wonderful interpretation of nostalgia! Memories are to be cherished forever. They are not meant to try to relive the past. For me, it’s like a library , to take a memory book off the shelf to read, understand and learn from the content! I return the book, only to find another one with more information to process and pass on. I often use my past experiences to teach my children and grandchildren about “ the facts of life.” Blending our past and present leads to connecting us tothe future, which is our heirs. Life is to be lived once. Let our legacy live forever. May our community of friends, family and acquaintances live, love and laugh!!

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