When the past reminds us of what we once were
but are not now
do not disturb your memory and disinter
cannot be altered to improve the way it looks.
Don’t be upset
by it or let it get into your mind its painful hooks.
gershon hepner's Other Poems
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Poet's Notes about The Poem
“Many other people, ” he explains, “have defined nostalgia as comparing the past with the present and saying, implicitly, that the past was better — ‘Those were the days.’ But that may not be the best way for most people to nostalgize. The comparison will not benefit, say, the elderly in a nursing home who don’t see their future as bright. But if they focus on the past in an existential way — ‘What has my life meant? ’ — then they can potentially benefit.”
This comparison-free nostalgizing is being taught to first-year college students as part of a study testing its value for people in difficult situations. Other experiments are using the same technique in people in nursing homes, women recovering from cancer surgery, and prison inmates.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t be indulging in nostalgia? People who are leery of intimate relationships — “avoidant, ” in psychological jargon — seem to reap relatively small benefits from nostalgia compared with people who crave closeness. And there are undoubtedly neurotics who overdo it. But for most others, Dr. Sedikides recommends regular exercises.
“If you’re not neurotic or avoidant, I think you’ll benefit by nostalgizing two or maybe three times a week, ” he says. “Experience it as a prized possession. When Humphrey Bogart says, ‘We’ll always have Paris, ’ that’s nostalgia for you. We have it, and nobody can take it away from us. It’s our diamond.’”
Constantine Sedikedes wrote:
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