Sunday, January 1, 2012

Nostalgia and the New Year

I usually don’t make New Year’s Resolutions and this year is no exception.  But with age comes nostalgic yearnings for the past.  A wish for some long ago memory, skill, size or a favorite car emerges.

Prompted by the references and use of the past in a novel I just finished, Stephen King’s - 11/23/63, ideas for this blog came to me.  Without revealing the plot, various twists and the conclusion I have a few thoughts to share about the novel and nostalgia.  Jake (aka George) goes back in time to prevent the assassination of President JFK.  He is transported to 1958 and must live there (or the Land of Ago as Jake calls it) until November 23, 1963 to fulfill his goal.  While living in the Land of Ago he reflects fondly on many of the joys of those days.  The taste of fresh home delivered milk, unlocked back doors and the trusting nature of people are a few of the elements of the past that Jake enjoys.  Several times the reader gets the impression that he would prefer to remain in The Land of Ago instead of the present day.

Oddly enough, Jake never lived during the time of the story.  Born in the 70’s Jake is actually not living in a past he remembers, but one that is familiar and close in time to his comfort level.  A few weeks ago my daughter-in-law (Nina), who makes marvelous homemade soaps, gave me a homemade bar of shaving soap.  I never experienced a soap and brush shave before.  It was fun once; but the second time I realized my technique needed improvement.  A shaving brush is probably better than a washcloth.  My shave was okay but not smooth.  This quirky past experience left me in desperate need of the predictable Colgate Shaving Cream and for a shaving brush if I intend to really appreciate the shaving soap experience of my father.  

Would you want to return to some nostalgic past?  Perhaps lurking in the back of your mind is a wish to relieve a moment or two and perhaps savor it for its joy or make different choices.  I spent a year in Thailand and now wish I had seen or done more.  That year is a hazy recollection of working on a military radio station with precious few special memories (other than a motorcycle accident written about in Oriental Tales).   Now a desire to see and enjoy that country with a mature appreciation exists.  There are other events I would love to just relive for sheer joy.

Not withstanding my moderate disappointment with shaving soap I still want to drive my 1955 Pontiac with all its faults, live in our second apartment, and relive the fun of riding my bike with no particular destination in mind at the age of 15.  Most of all I would love a redo of a few special moments.  I want to remember riding in my sports car with Iris, my wedding ceremony and the birth of our sons.  My wish would be to have digital and video recorders ready to record those events.  Of course neither of those devices existed then so I am left with my imperfect memory.  

As I wrote in another blog, today is the best day of my life.  Nostalgia will have to remain a playful wish. Making meaningful and special memories today to enjoy in the years to come is a more important principle for life rather than living in the past.

Happy New Year and make fond memories for the future.

Print Blog Post

1 comment: