Not the time Jane threw a coffeepot at Don,
but the time they swam with turtles in Puako Bay.
The poem looks at how different memories are associated with events, people, places in our lives or in history. It pairs a negative memory with a positive one, implicitly inviting us to choose the good rather than the bad.
Journal prompt: write a series of couplets alternating negative and positive related memories, beginning each:
Not the time……………
But the time…………….
Nostalgia, the bittersweet emotion, that mixture of regret for what has gone and sweetness of what it was, offers us the choice of focussing on the sadness and loss or the happiness, not wallowing in loss or bitterness but celebrating the good parts of our experience.
Nostalgia researcher Krystine Batcho says: “When we reminisce nostalgically, we want to bring the best of our past into our present”. She suggests that ruminating on a friendship that has ended can take us in two different ways – we can choose to focus on the loss, things that went wrong or we can focus on the good aspects of the experience:
Journal prompt: explore a friendship that has ended
What did you get out of it?
What did you share?
What are the things you want to remember?
How did it become a part of who you are today?
A recent study identified by Tokyo Metropolitan University identified two characteristics of nostalgic memory:
1) they are personally significant
2) they are ‘chronologically remote’ and have not been much mulled over so that when they are recalled there is an element of novelty.
Nostalgic memories are often triggered by seeing an old photograph or an object from the past or hearing a tune or sound connected with an old event.
Journal prompt: look at a photograph or listen to a piece of music from your past
Set a timer for 15 minutes (so you don’t disappear into the past for too long).
Notice the sensations evoked in you. Write in the present tense about any memories that come to mind, describe them in detail.
After 15 minutes, read through what you’ve written and think about what you want to keep, what aspects you’d like to re-kindle (for example qualities or activities that you have allowed to lapse) and what you have learnt.
If you have thoughts about these prompts please leave me a comment.
Notice: there are places still available on the half day workshop in Boulder on June 29th workshop