Recently, a very hot day in New Rochelle combined with just a few appointments, gave me the opportunity to read some of the articles that had piled up on my desk. One piece was from the New York Times Science section. It was about nostalgia (“What is Nostalgia Good For…?” John Tierney, July 8, 2013). An interesting article, but not eliciting any wows, just some confusion. Readers are given the opportunity to comment on what they have read. And so I posed the following question: “What is the difference between nostalgia and reminiscence?” Two people responded to my inquiry. Truth be told, I don’t think there is a significant difference. Kinda like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire battling it out in: “You say tomato and I say tomato.”
Despite my inability to truly grasp these differences, I read some of the comments made by other readers. Call it life review, reminiscence or nostalgia, I was particularly impressed by the comment of RitaLouise from Bellingham, Washington.
“I am 85. Yes, I do relive parts of the past. But what I really find fascinating is the ‘thread’ of one connection to another in my life. So much has to do with being in the right place at the right time, connecting with a person with a connection that will change your life. To review the successes and the failures simply gives a rich tapestry of life as it is. One decision is pivotal to an outcome that can be a path to progress, or a setback. What is also interesting is when you weigh the balance. Would you change anything? Or are you just content to watch the flow of your life, the possibilities, the decisions, and the outcomes? Life is ‘some and some’, and if toward the end we can be at peace with it, so be it.”
Thank you RitaLouise from Bellingham, Washington. I have turned your comments into questions as I help clients reminisce about their life tapestries. For this geriatric care manager, a piece of that thread was knotted more than 25 years ago in the driveway of my New Rochelle home. A friend, just before saying good-bye, made a parting suggestion. Why not consider entering the brave new world of geriatric care management? A suggestion first ignored, then revisited and finally acted upon. Call this musing of a very long time ago nostalgia or reminiscence, it was truly the right decision.