I've already admitted that I have a rabid affinity for podcasts. Now I'd like to share a mental journey I've taken because of one I listened to recently. The topic was nostalgia, what it is, how it affects us, what purpose it serves, and in particular, in relation to the coronavirus pandemic- - its relevance. If indeed it has any.

Nostalgia, by definition, is a longing for something past tense for which you had warm feelings or affection. It is often prompted by missing a loved one, a place, or a series of events that were deeply loved or meaningful to you.

According to late author Svetlana Boym (The Future of Nostalgia), there are two kinds of nostalgia. Restorative nostalgia is what we experience when we desire to go back to a past time or event and change it for the better. Reflective nostalgia allows you to peruse the past and accept the memories as they are.

If you quite often feel sad when thinking about the past, as I do, restorative nostalgia is most likely what you're experiencing. If you're good at leaving the past, in the past, you're much more evolved than I am, and I freely admit it.

North Dakota Psychology professor Clay Routledge believes that nostalgic thoughts occur most often when we experience "sadness, loneliness, and meaninglessness". He also thinks, that further indulgence in nostalgia at those times, can relieve those particular emotional states.

I disagree with that philosophy. But again, that could just be me.

But what, if anything, might you be nostalgic about in a positive way, after a quarantine, self-isolation, or social distancing experience?

People who have been isolated with family members, may say, renewing close family bonds with spouses or children, is something they will look back on fondly. If you're a solitary person, your response may be wildly different.

I'm very good at being a hermit and while I missed my best friends (a very small group of humans, who mistakenly think I'm worth the effort), and their amazing hugs, I have no problem spending time alone. Since my family is always all the way across the country, that wasn't part of my equation. The times we did connect, by phone, text, or FaceTime were highly treasured, and, will continue to be so.

I will be nostalgic for my favorite, hot coffee, brewed in small batches in my kitchen, so it was fresh all morning long, wearing sweatpants, my discovery of deep dark chocolate oat milk, and the silence in my neighborhood. The soothing quiet of heavily reduced traffic all over the city will be something I'll remember fondly, too.

I will treasure the memory of one wonderfully, wacky, and hilarious Zoom gathering with that aforementioned circle of friends. Yes, it was the one where I ended up sitting on the john in the bathroom, because that is where the most accessible place to plug in a dying iPhone is, in my house.

There are a few other things I will miss, or, that I am so grateful for right now and always.

Sources: Hidden Brain/The Time Machine, Clay RoutledgeRefinery 29/What is Nostalgia? 

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