This is from an essay by Joan Didian, a novelist and essayist whom I greatly admire.
My favorite lines from this essay actually make up two sentences:
"I think we are all well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise, they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends."
"On Keeping A Notebook" (from the 1968 anthology Slouching Towards Bethlehem) is probably my favorite of her essays, and I love this sentence. I think it is true of most people that the older we get the more people we realize we have been. Sometimes we like to forget them, and sometimes we wish other people would remember them more often. Sometimes we have moved on to the next personification of ourselves and don't even realize it for a while. Sometimes there has been something in our past, perhaps tragic or emotionally debilitating, that we can't or don't want to remember, but that has shaped us into who we are. Sometimes it's the simple, happy child who existed in the past and who seems to be harder to conjure up as we go along.
I love the way she expresses her thought with the phrase "keep on nodding terms." We don't need to wallow in the despairs of the past. We don't need to yearn for the delights of the past. But it is probably healthy to at least be on nodding terms with it.