Nostalgia and regret – where is the love?
Nostalgia and regret – where is the love?
An estimated 2 billion people worldwide recently viewed the royal marriage of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle[i]. How deeply runs this ideal of romantic love in our society, and what are some of its long-term effects?
The ideal of romantic attachment in our society, where there is a ‘one and only’ for each of us, has far reaching effects well into our elder years. The exclusivity of this attachment to only one person sets us up for potentially devastating regret and loneliness when that person passes on and the spouse is left on their own.
However, what if this ideal of exclusive romantic love has us selling ourselves short of the true love that we all are? What if it is true that we are love and that we are innately capable of constantly emanating love, both to ourselves and to all others? In light of this, the emotion of regret could occur when we have avoided living our life fully in this quality of love and/or have reserved our own definition of love as being exclusive to our spouse and close family. In this disconnection from our true love, below the surface sadness and regret potentially taint all our relationships – our relationships with our self, our spouse, our family and friends.
On the passing of a spouse, nostalgia can come in with its plethora of pictures from the past [ii] when our loved one was still with us, allowing us to reminisce on days gone by. This sustains the disconnection from true love that we are. There often occur deep feelings of loneliness and a sense of emptiness that remain when there is no openness to true love – the love that is always there just waiting for our re-connection, which is only a breath away.
The devastation from regret and nostalgia that occurs is then compounded by a mindset that strangleholds not only elders, but most people in our society. This mindset would have us believe that after a certain age it is simply too late for us to make significant and supportive changes in our lives, or to form new relationships — including our primary relationship, our relationship with our self.
Without this foundational relationship with ourselves and to the true love that we are within, we are left to the surging tides of emotion, most notably a devastating sense of regret.
Instead our elders focus on the many ‘should’ve dones’, ‘could’ve beens’ and the ‘might haves’. In the overwhelm of this mental onslaught, many may resign themselves to the notion of it was all just ‘meant to be’, thereby removing responsibility in their own life with this concluding full stop. This gives rise to beliefs heard in many conversations among elders along the lines of; “We are all lonely, but you just have to get on with it, don’t you?”
A Growing Band of ‘Late Bloomers’
Some elders are becoming aware of a strong and clear sense to open themselves up to reconnecting with the love that is within them, irrespective of age, and then to share this with all others.
At the outset, these elders may find their initial efforts thwarted by the suppressive beliefs and attitudes referred to previously.
Elders who have started to be open in this way, including ourselves, sometimes report feeling a vacillation, an opening and a closing of trusting their own feelings and their own connection. We have become increasingly aware of the need to allow this livingness to live every moment within ourselves and from there, with all others. It is this livingness that confirms the personal connection within our own physical body. This connection is supported by our breath.
Speaking from experience, this process of the return to feeling and trusting can initially be a little scary and disturbing. But the outplay is remarkable…. we have come to understand that when we are fulfilled by our own love within, we are not measured by others, or by what we have done.
Returning to trusting the love we are opens a natural way to be that has previously been denied. There is a feeling of returning to a warmth within oneself that exposes that there has been a coldness in the body of which one may have been hitherto unaware but now allows an openness and intimacy within oneself. This warmth also brings a natural fragility and an open-hearted way of relating with others and is accompanied by a profound appreciation of a living process as it unfolds from day to day.
This inner connection doesn’t mean that we are immune to sadness at the passing of our loved one. However, it does bring another way to be with it, without the devastation and debilitating long-term grief that often accompanies the ceasing of a romantically based relationship. There is an ease in letting go, and an acceptance that passing on does not herald a separation from the person and their being.
When this inner connection is lived, it brings a sense of constancy and continuity across lives, beyond our physicality. There arises a sense of an ongoing connection with loved ones and the inner knowing that they don’t go anywhere… they simply pass to the next plane of life. This plane of life is intricately interwoven with all life.
We are finding that this exquisite simplicity of love and connection exposes the insidious mental constructs we have all bought into that physical life is ‘it’; and that when you’re ‘gone,’ that’s it: the end, final, finished.
Interestingly, one of the leading causes of death in humanity is still coronary heart disease[ii]. Is it possible that this reflects our state of disconnection and that we are living with our hearts guarded towards each other?
Living in the rhythm of our all-embracing inner heart throughout our entire lives confers the blessing of being deeply connected and of living a quality of pure love, which encompasses everyone. An effect of this is that there is neither room nor place for regret and loneliness at the end of a physical life. There is also no need for nostalgia, the ‘looking backwards’ on the ‘good times’ and the ‘bad.’ There is simply the constant opportunity to be fully engaged lovingly with whatever is being presented in the moment.
Moreover, it is never too late for those flowers who bloom in the autumn of life: this love can be chosen at any time, allowing us all to celebrate our life and to be in the warm embrace of this connection from that point on.
Our true love is always within us – always – at any age.