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Remembrance, not Nostalgia

Lately I have been reconnecting with some old keepsakes from my teens and twenties.  I had simply thrown letters, reports, awards, photos, birthday cards, and journals into a cardboard box.  Stored in the attic for many years, I was looking for some old sports equipment and discovered mice had begun to feast on my treasured memories.  Salvaging the majority of them, I decided to store the stuff in a plastic carton to protect them.  In the process of repacking I read a few letters, journals etc and discovered key qualities and ideals of my young self.  In some ways, it was affirming of my ongoing essence is very similar over the course of nearly fifty years and I also noted the areas of growth.  Finding those parts (or members) of my self inspired me to look at the old days with confidence that I can re-member without fear of falling into a 'good old days' syndrome.  With the clarity of distance and age I read and rediscovered the rich ore of my timeless self.  My past is my present and can spark new directions.

The Pink Floyd poster attached is emblematic of that time forty years ago.  A time of exploration and freedom, when I was open and curious about new music, new places, and new people.  That night in San Rafael marks the beginning of my adulthood.  We did not know Pink Floyd but heard they were good and jumped in my old Buick station wagon and rolled across the bridge to San Rafael and found a new world and concert hall called Pepperland.   It was a total environment painted in the style of the then current animated feature, 'Yellow Submarine.'  It was like going to another world.  It was a colorful world of expression and joy and the Floyd escorted me and my cohorts.   They were expanders of the musical norm and that was exciting.  Recalling the spirit of that early self is healing and is a beacon to freedom.

In the Sufi tradition they have a ritual called zikr, which is often translated as remembrance of god.  Generally, they take time to remember the true self, the unscarred self, the natural self who comes from a place of one with god.  It is intended for the practitioner to recall that quality and re-member.  To put the pieces back together in their original state.  It is out of this remembrance that the individual aligns himself with love and all of the qualities usually attributed to god.

At times the challenge of the Boomer is remembrance of by gone times and not nostalgia (the syrupy, mushy, powerless memory of a time when life was 'better').  The memory may be a time of romance, youth, place, but it doesn't empower when one dwells in nostalgia.  It is looking back with regret and missing.  Excess nostalgia may lead to depression with its litany of complaints about the world and one's self.  'Back in those days people cared about each other, back in those days I was young with a world of possibility.'  Nostalgia closes the door on life as it is now and lands one in the rocking chair telling tales of back in the day.

How does one practice remembrance, a positive re-membering of parts of oneself that have been lost in the fog of a long ago time?  When memories emerge in thought it is not skillful to push it away like a plate of tempting chocolate cake but to invite it in.  Welcome the recollection and become friends with it, allow the old story to be a teacher about who you were, what were your ideals back in then, what were your dreams, what activated passion, or who were the type of people you gravitated towards.   Your youthful self can speak to you with a deep wisdom of being and from that renewed life and direction.

Remembrance for the Boomeranger may have three steps:  1)  Openness to cues and clues in your present life that refer to the youthful (often idealistic) self, 2)  Follow that clue and see what qualities of life are prominent, 3)  Brainstorm or journal on how that be expressed in your life now.   For myself, I notice the thread of a clue in my emotionality to something.  It may be a welling up of tears or perhaps a heightened curiosity or even a dream.  I am learning to trust these cues and act from that.  That means to follow up like a detective trying to crack a case.  Research on the internet, talk about it with friends, free associate on connections, or even visit a relevant location.  Trusting the journey is to trust your life.   That journey of remembrance or putting back together the lost or forgotten parts of yourself into a new vision, an image grounded on your unchanging self.  The effort required is a path for satisfying your core needs of autonomy, belonging, and competence.  When you are on mission, you will find others that align with core values, and then you can pursue growth in that direction.   Taking that trip may be the new adventure that makes the 'golden' years the most rewarding of your life.  And no drugs are needed.


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