Friday, July 12, 2019

Insight: New dreams, summer dreams

By Lorraine Glowczak

“Absolutely stunning” are two words I would use to describe the past couple of weeks. There is nothing more beautiful than summers in Maine – and, generally speaking, there is something about summers that are unique no matter where you live in the U.S.

Summers, it seems, bring out the child in all of us. In the past two weeks, I have played in the sun as if I were a 16-year-old – carefree with nothing but joy as I hiked, kayaked, ate watermelon by the picnic table and read a book while falling asleep in a hammock by the lake.

Is it just me, or do you also long for the carefree days of your childhood when you spot a child or two playing in the water or riding their bike? What is it about summer that pulls the youthfulness out of us, creating a nostalgia that last forever?

In her online article for entitled, “How nostalgia fuels creativity: Looking back may help you look forward”, author Annie Sneed stated that nostalgia makes us crave the past, bringing back fond memories of the good old days. What is interesting is she said that wistfully looking back can deepen our experience in the present moment.

 “It seems counterintuitive that such a backward-looking emotion would inspire original ideas, but that’s exactly what new research has found. It turns out that nostalgia may actually make people more open to new experiences, and this effect can boost creativity,” Sneed wrote.
She went on to write that nostalgia once had a bad reputation. In fact, psychologists viewed the emotion as a psychiatric disorder in which one was avoiding the present moment by yearning the past. “But recent research has shown that nostalgia can have positive effects, like making people more optimistic about the future and more willing to set new goals.” Sneed continued.

This brings me to a moment I experienced last week on the Portland waterfront while waiting in line for a whale watching tour. As I was standing there, watching people come and go, I noticed a group of senior citizens stepping off of a tour bus, some needing assistance with walking. One individual, moving very slowly, had to use a walker in order to get around. As she was taking her feeble steps, I overheard someone say, “When I get like that – it is over for me.”

I wonder, was it the nostalgia of summers past that gave the woman with a walker the will to keep having new experiences, despite her challenges? Is it possible that looking back at times gone past inspired her to live more fully in the present moment?

Most of us hope to live a long full life without too many hardships. But, I for one, also hope that despite any challenges I face in the future – my reminiscence of summers past will always inspire me to fully live with optimism in the moment with new dreams to look forward to.
I’ll end my editorial with a few stanzas from one of my favorite songs by Joni Mitchell. “The Circle Game.”

The chorus begins with, “And the seasons they go round and round - And the painted ponies go up and down. We're captive on the carousel of time. We can't return we can only look behind
From where we came - And go round and round and round in the circle game
The song goes on to say, “So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty. Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true. There'll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through.”

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