In my post “Making a Bucket List of History,” I mentioned taking “regular nostalgia trips through my collections of photos, books, music, fiber arts supplies and projects, and my writing notebooks.”
When it comes to nostalgia trips, most of them arise in a haphazard fashion. People will be going about their business and something, be it a place or a sound or a scent or a phrase or an artifact, will instantly send them packing to the Land of Nostalgia. Nostalgia implies a pleasurable experience, so these trips are fun to take.
Rather than letting nostalgia trips happen purely by happenstance, why aren’t we more deliberate about taking them?
What might happen if we planned nostalgia trips?
Actually, there are some nostalgia trips we do plan.
Planned Nostalgia Trips
Married couples who plan a trip to the place where they took their honeymoon are taking a nostalgia trip. Parents who create a photo album or photo book of their children are taking a nostalgia trip. A group of friends who meets every year at the same State Park is taking a nostalgia trip. A grandmother who sits down with a grandchild to sift through a bin of family photos, explaining who those old-timers are that the child will never meet is taking a nostalgia trip. And family reunions can be giant multi-generational nostalgia trips, depending on the size of the family.
Nostalgia Trips of Our Possessions
But, we don’t tend to plan nostalgia trips with our possessions and collections. These are the trips we leave to happenstance. Or, worse yet, we wind up on nostalgia trips when we are attempting to sort our possessions in order to downsize. This is a bad time for a nostalgia trip because it leads to unintended time wasting and nothing properly sorted or discarded. When we accidentally reconnect with a piece, it becomes difficult to let it go.
Instead of leaving our cherished items packed in boxes and tucked in closets, out of sight and out of memory, we ought to plan to excavate some of them several times throughout the year.
I do this fairly often with my books and fiber arts materials. These nostalgia trips remind me of which books I own and love, with the result this year being that I decided to reread a bunch of my favorites. With my fiber arts materials, I think about things I could make and run across art pieces I have already made. (Can you believe that artists actually forget some of the things they’ve made?)
One collection I haven’t spent much time with is my past writing notebooks. I’m sure there are ideas within them that I’d like to develop further. Taking a nostalgia trip through them might also show me consistent patterns of thought over time, or who I used to be.
Take Regular Nostalgia Trips & Write Some History
I suggest that all of us take regular nostalgia trips through our possessions, photos, and special places all throughout our lives, rather than waiting until we are senior citizens.
While on these journeys, we ought to write a little history about what makes a particular item special. What does that vinyl album by The Clash mean to you? Which book is your favorite from your teen years and why? Where did that signed baseball come from? A couple of sentences or a paragraph will suffice.
Label photos as you go. If your photos are all in digital format, create a print-on-demand photo book, but don’t be satisfied with simply plopping the photos into a lovely format. Write some text to explain who these people are and the date and occasion of the photos. I did this with my daughter’s wedding photos and when she saw the book, she said she could tell a historian had created it. 🙂 (Seriously, all I did was label the photos.)
Use regular nostalgia trips to root yourself into your life, to remind yourself who you are, to serve as a guide to your memory, and to show you how you have come to be.