• Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.


People and Things That Went Before

Nostalgia and looking ahead.

July 21, 2013

I am in the middle of a film shoot. The concept is fascinating, and the script is literate and engaging. I like my part a lot. I also like the director, cast and crew — but I miss being in the play; I miss my old director and fellow actors.

I also started my new job this week. I was burning out of my old job — it is a great agency and we did fine work, but the state's bureaucratic demands felt increasingly burdensome, and having to be on call for fairly frequent emergencies even when I wasn't working eventually took its toll. My new position offers the chance to do first rate clinical work without the added stress. My new colleagues and director are highly intelligent, dedicated and interesting people. I think I will like the job a lot. But my mind keeps drifting back to my old job, imagining what my previous colleagues are doing at certain times of the day, wondering if they miss me.

And Ben turns 19 next week. He has matured into a kind, brilliant, responsible and delightful young man, and I couldn't be prouder of him — but I miss my baby, and my toddler, and my five-year-old.

So I have been thinking about nostalgia, and wondering what the point of it is. In an evolutionary sense, wouldn't those of us who could let go of the past easily and adapt to new circumstances be more likely to thrive? What is the good of holding on to people and places we no longer have access to?

I shared these thoughts with a friend, who sent me this article. I found it useful to reflect that these memories help me in constructing and refining the narrative of my life, and help me to maintain feelings of closeness to friends and loved ones even when we're not together.

So, for the moment, I am time traveling, living in the past and the present simultaneously. I know from experience that the past will soon give way to the present, and to planning for the future—but it is also nice to reflect that important people and places will always be with me—in my life, I've loved them all.


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