Another Sunday, and another post that I bring back from the archives; or rather this time from the nostalgia bin, or the treasure chest of memories. The Magic of Memories section is the one I revived (with a few updates to fit today) while the other sections have been added keeping in line with my Sunday Scribblings posts.
The Magic of Memories
There’s a place within our hearts
Where we keep our favorite memories,
The ones that never fail to make us smile —
And when life becomes too hectic
It’s such a special feeling
To close our eyes and reminisce awhile.
(From Reminiscing by Amanda Bradley)
As I floated down memory lane over the last few weeks in a flurry of
festive end-of-the-school-year activities, I realized that the memories I have are of certain types
- the first ones are those which were traditions(events which were repeated, actually not the daily events but every once in a while – like being woken up pre-dawn to celebrate Diwali or the festivities during Navratri/Holi in our town);
- the next ones are those which I remember so clearly that I can go through them like a flashback as in the movies; still others are retained only because of visual or other reminders (like photographs, songs, smells, or other mementos);
- while the last type are the ones where they are just of reach – hazy, and in bits and pieces – well, these ones – I can chose to make them happy or sad depending on my mood!
- And of course, in addition to all these are the memories that are not there – all the ones that my mind did not capture as the fleeting moment passed by, becoming a part of the past, never to come back again.
This last set of memories are the ones that continue to plague me – they seem to ask me, “Why did you leave us in the past?” But I have no answer as I do not know them at all (or if I do, they are so hidden in the maze that is our brain). When friends, family or others seem to remember and I don’t, that flusters me – was this memory so important or wonderful? Why did I forget? Their memories make me feel both cherished and envious. Cherished since they chose to keep that memory of me (obviously I am talking of the happy ones they have) and envious that I seem to not have that memory.
Those Photographic Memories
The memories that I have with almost photographic clarity amaze me as they are so random and some of them are ones I should have not remembered (not because they were so bad but because they were so early on in life).
There are a few more memories like this which I cherish for their beauty and the happiness each memory brings me each time I relive it. And so, as I move forward now, I work hard to do two things – one, to make each moment of each day beautiful so it stays somewhere in somebody’s memory to relive later and retrieve a smile; and second, to cherish each precious moment and store it in my memory (if not in the mazes of my brain, then at least in a photograph, a written or typed line somewhere, or another visual reminder)
If you want to read more about memory, here are a few great articles I read/found when I was working on this post:
- Google on the Brain: How the Internet Has Changed What We Remember
- Exploring Life – Memory: The Revival of Experience
- In Search of Lost and Forgotten Memories
Nostalgia as a Poetic Device
Definition of Nostalgia
Nostalgia is defined as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.” The word itself is derived from Greek; and is a compound word The word nostalgia is learned formation of a Greek compound, consisting of nóstos, meaning “homecoming”, and from Greek algos “pain, grief, distress”. It was coined by a 17th-century medical student to describe the anxieties displayed by Swiss mercenaries fighting away from home.
Poetry and Nostalgia
We all know how certain things can trigger a rush of memories in us, those bittersweet memories that leave us feeling just a little happy and a little sad as well. Artists across mediums – be it writers, poets, musicians, filmmakers, and etc. – bank upon this aspect of our brains and use nostalgia as a device in their works.
Music, movies, ads, and of course stories and poetry can be to evoke those feelings of sadness or pleasure through stories or descriptions of memories. Those memories could be one of many things:
- like a single moment in time (a first kiss maybe),
- an event (your high school graduation or wedding or the birth of a loved one)
- a win of some sort
- maybe a fondly remembered relationship
- or one of so many other things
Poets thus use nostalgia as a device to evoke the same feelings in their readers; that memory of the first kiss might bring back memories of that first love and trigger smiles on their faces with some unshed tears too if that first love is now a long lost one! Or the reader might be reminded of that wonderful journey they took to their favorite holiday destination ages ago and it rejuvenates them while at the same time realizing it might not be something they can do in the near future. Thus nostalgia can effectively shift moods of the reader, incite smiles, help them recall something that makes them feel good about themselves or loved ones, and also add to the happiness quotient all around!
So dear reader, try using this device for yourself. Write something using nostalgia; using the power of memories to tell a story and even include a message with it in the process.
How to Write a Nostalgic Poem
Here are a few quick tips on how you can write a poem to evoke nostalgia; or a poem to write when you are feeling nostalgic..
Do something that will help you with that. For example, you could take a trip to your old school (if you live close enough) or cook up an old favorite dish (something your mom always made). You could listen to a song your dad loved or simply look at old photographs. Each and any one of these can help take you back to those nostalgic times, flood you with bittersweet memories, and take you to the past right in your present.
Use what you are doing to bring back those old emotions, and often times you will also find yourself looking at those memories with fresh perspectives.
Have a remember when talk with a loved one!! As simple as that. It will serve many purposes; one, you will be reaching out to a friend or family member you have not talked to for a while maybe; and two, both of you will have taken a wonderful trip down memory lane together no matter where you are. And channel those shared memories as well as those strong emotions into your writing.
Be Specific, Be Detailed, Be Real, Be Positive
Remember (sorry, couldn’t resist!) that your best nostalgic writing will be the one that is based on real memories! And also those memories that evoke the strongest positive (bittersweet even though they might be) emotions in you. Use those memories for your writing.
And also remember that it is better to be specific. Rather than simply saying, when I was a little girl, stating when I was seven years old (or on the first day of fifth grade) is better. Then use that specific event or time period and draw out the details; share what made that specific memory special or important or so noteworthy to you. Use the little details to highlight the emotions and to allow the reader to picture the scene just like that vivid flashback you yourself had as you delved into the past!
Then, there is the aspect of positivity. As I mentioned earlier, nostalgia evokes both happiness and sadness, but in the end, it usually leaves the person experiencing it feeling better. So focus on the positive as you write your nostalgic piece.
Make it a Shared Memory
While your nostalgic writing might be from the treasure chest of your memories, it is very easily possible that your readers can relate to some part of it (if not most or all of it). So, as you share your story, give a chance for your reader to nod their heads, or have a ‘oh, I recall when (something like) this happened to me’, or have their memories are triggered by your writing.
In the end
Remember that — Remember when…. is wistful, wonderful, warm.. so remember that as you write your best work yet!
Additional Reading, h/t, References
- Billy Collins’ poem titled Nostalgia
- Chase Twichell’s poem titled The Blade of Nostalgia
- What Poetry Teaches Us About Nostalgia
- 10 of the Best Poems about Memory and Remembering
- Carol Ann Duffy’s poem titled Nostalgia
On My Blog
Since my last Sunday Scribbling (which was a long while ago now!), here are the posts. I have not posted of late (well, two plus weeks actually) but hope to get back to posting a few times each week going forward.
- The Very Wonderful Eric Carle: A Tribute (books and more)
- R.K. Narayan’s The Guide: From Wonderful Books to Movies (book review)
- Cool Delish Veggie Wraps & Quotes to Wrap Up High School (bookish quotes)
- All People Around the World are Beautiful (book reviews)
- Sunday Scribblings #71: The Need to Fill Empty Spaces
On the Home Front
A lot has been happening on my home front; which is the reason I ended up staying away from here and elsewhere on social media for the past fortnight and more! While I am not sure where to start, here is a jist of all that happened.
Off to College With Dancing and etcs.
My oldest graduated from high school…It certainly brought forth a lot of wonderful memories as we watched him accept his high school diploma. While school has been online, my son did go for a couple of days to school in-person after my teens’ school offered options to return in-person for 2-4 days each week in mid-April this year.
Anyway, returning to the graduation, it was wonderful that they were able to have a graduation ceremony; albeit, in smaller groups instead of the whole class together with assigned and limited seating for guests (that is family and friends) and following social distancing rules. It certainly was filled with bittersweet moments, and an event that is saved for future nostalgia!
Memory waits for us in the future. (from Exploring Life – Memory: The Revival of Experience)
Gotta Dance After All
My daughter’s dance school has a performance every other year; and while we had hoped to have the show at a theater this year, it was not to be be. However, the directors of the school opted to video record the dances in a beautiful stage they built in their parking lot; and then put it all together to stream it for families and friends over the last couple of days in lieu of a theatrical show. It was beautiful!! And I got an opportunity to take a few videos and photos which we normally cannot take when in a theatre due to various other issues.
While we hope (and know?) that things will be back to the normalcy of a theatre show by the time the next one comes around in 2023, this experience was another wonderful memory in the making.
“So many versions of just one memory, and yet none of them were right or wrong. Instead, they were all pieces. Only when fitted together, edge to edge, could they even begin to tell the whole story.” – Sarah Dessen
And the Rest
We built a planter bench! While this was not the same as the one my son built from scratch for his Eagle Project last year, it still needed some amount of drilling and putting together of some pre-done parts. My son and I started on it but it soon evolved to become a family project. Took us about 3 hours as we realized we needed to add more screws than the kit provided. But it turned out good and we like the end result. What do you think? You can look at the middle pic in the top row for our bench, complete with flowers from Home Depot.
For those who are interested, this one was from Costco (I don’t see it online anymore but it might be at stores). On the other hand, I found similar ones at a better deal (too late for me but it will help you!). One of them is over here at Wayfair (one of my fav online stores) while another with a back rest is here.
And last but not least, we had events we attended; both of close friends and with a small group of people attending whilst following all social distancing rules (except to eat all the yummy food!). My daughter and I attempted to put henna for our friend for the event (our very first attempt and you can see that in the collage below – third photo, second row).
On My Blog and Home Front
Both my teens have registered for a couple of classes (online at this time) in local community colleges to keep themselves busy for a couple of hours each day. For the rest of the day, we are hoping to occupy ourselves with
- building this long pending bookshelf; it took over an year since I first wanted to do so but the shelf was never in stock at our local Ikea for pickup, and I was not ready to shell out an additional 50 plus bucks just for shipping!
- gardening and landscaping our yard a little by little
- experimenting with sweet and savory treats to indulge in
- and of course, reading and posting reviews
- being lazy too..:)
This Week’s Celebrations
The Literary and Close-to-it Celebrations
- Well, this one deserves to be here: June 19th is National Garfield the Cat Day!! (it launched on June 19, 1978)
- The birthdays this week… The 14th of June celebrates Harriet Beecher Stowe; while June 16th is the birthday of Andy Weir, Erich Segal, and Joyce Carol Oates. And the 18th of June is to celebrate Chris Van Allsburg. Come Juneteenth, we celebrate Salman Rushdie’s birthday; and end the week with Vikram Seth’s birthday on the 20th of June.
The Foodie Celebrations
- June 14th starts the week with National Strawberry Shortcake Day
- 16th of June is sure yummy with it being National Fudge Day
- The 17th of June is rich with delicacies; for it is National Eat Your Vegetables Day (I know!), National Apple Strudel Day, and National Cherry Tart Day
- End the week really cool! for it is National Vanilla Milkshake Day and National Ice Cream Soda Day
The Other Celebrations
- The Scout slogan is ‘Do a Good Turn Daily’ and on the 14th of June, that good turn can be to donate blood. There is always a need for this valuable life saver, and even more so currently. June 14th happens to be World Blood Donor Day
- June 15th has these two cool celebrations: National Smile Power Day and Nature Photography Day
- The 16th of June has a unique celebration for sure… It is Bloomsday. Curious? You want a hint?! James Joyce!! Read more about it here and celebrate online with various events that are already ongoing by checking out this website here.
- June 18th is to go ahead and splurge for it is, well, National Splurge Day
- The 19th of June is Juneteenth as well as National Watch Day. It is also World Sauntering Day so take a stroll along (not, memory) lane….
- And of course, it is Father’s Day next week, with it being the third Sunday in June
Wrapping up my Sunday Scribblings
So dear reader, this was it for this post. As always, appreciate and totally welcome your thoughts, comments, and suggestions on these scribblings on Sunday! And which of these days in this wonderful week do you plan to celebrate? And what about you, dear reader – what is the magic of memories for you?