Nostalgia – What Is It Good For?

Nostalgia is the good feeling you get when you remember things from your past.

We all love a good dose of nostalgia. In fact it can be quite intoxicating, to the point you can almost OD on it.

“There are no days more full than those we go back to.” Colum McCann, Zoli

A meeting with old friends, a visit to your hometown, a fleeting scent,an old song, can all propel you back to a time when we didn’t have a care in the world and all was good.

In reality time erases the bad experiences and highlights the good times.

To be lost in a flood of nostalgia is to give your self to another time and another place. Each memory unearths other rich veins of nostalgia.

I know,  my teens and early twenties were not the best time of my life, but when nostalgia kicks in I see only the Everests and never the dark canyons.

Is it good to wallow in nostalgia?  I love to take those ventures into history, but at times it can be quite taxing.  A night of nostalgia leaving me with a non-alcoholic hangover.  Drained, listless but at least no headache.

The word nostalgia is derived from two Greek words: nostos, meaning ‘homecoming’, and algos, meaning ‘pain.’  In the late 18 century nostalgia was considered a serious condition that rendered sufferers incapacitated by homesickness and despair.

At some stage the word nostalgia slipped out of the medical compendium, was taken hostage  by the reminiscing set, and there it remains.

“Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, and the past perfect!”            Owens Lee Pomeroy

Old photos, television, movies, music, thrive on nostalgia. Superman, Batman,  Spiderman the 40’s and 50’s comics coming to life on the big screen and Wonderwoman on TV. We can all write out own lists.

The TV series Mad Men is set in the sixties capturing the fashion and social mores of the period.  It’s been very successful but the interesting thing is it’s not only those who lived through the period who enjoy it.  My 21 year old daughter is a devotee of the show and there’s no nostalgia in it for her.

Every generation will have it’s favourite nostalgic period but is it a good thing?

Research by University of Southampton, found that remembering past times improves mood, increases self-esteem, strengthens social bonds and imbues life with meaning.

 “Nostalgia is a way for us to tap into the past experiences that we have that are quite meaningful – to remind us that our lives are worthwhile, that we are people of value, that we have good relationships, that we are happy and that life has some sense of purpose or meaning.”Image

I recently posted a photo  on Facebook of a Channel 10 Adelaide Christmas Appeal in the 80’s with dozens of TV personalities of the time. It provoked an amazing response as people recalled not only the faces but memories of a time gone by.

“how sad and bad and mad it was – but then, how it was sweet” Robert Browning

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