Quotes about the Past

Most popular the past quotes

No matter how difficult the past, you can always begin today.


To accept one's past—one's history—is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it.
What's past is prologue.


The past cannot be cured.
Today is yesterday's pupil.

history learning yesterday

The past is a sorry country.
Be not the slave of your own past.
Like camels, we lived on our past.
One faces the future with one's past.
The past is all we know of the future.


The past is perpetual youth to the heart.
You can never plan the future by the past.

future planning time

The past is never dead.  It's not even past.
Don't let yesterday use up too much of today.

today yesterday

Study the past if you would define the future.
The past is never where you think you left it.
The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet.
In the carriages of the past you can't go anywhere.
You can live in the past, but there is no future in it.
Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.


The past is fantasy, and the future is science fiction.


Don't brood on what's past, but never forget it either.
Never look for birds of this year in the nests of the last.
There is no distance on this earth as far away as yesterday.


Faithfulness to the past can be a kind of death above ground.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.


It's but little good you'll do a-watering the last year's crop.
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.


The past grows gradually around one, like a placenta for the dying.
We are products of our past, but we don't have to be prisoners of it.
It is not settled happiness but momentary joy that glorifies the past.


There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory.

human nature imagination

The past is really almost as much a work of the imagination as the future.
The past is a kind of screen upon which we project our vision of the future.
When the past is recaptured by the imagination, breath is put back into life.


The first recipe for happiness is: Avoid too lengthy meditations on the past.


One's past is what one is. It is the only way by which people should be judged.


He who believes that the past cannot be changed has not yet written his memoirs.


The past is a prison cell with an open door. You can walk out any time you want.
The past is strapped to our backs.  We do not have to see it; we can always feel it.
Man is a history-making creature who can neither repeat his past nor leave it behind.


A safe but sometimes chilly way of recalling the past is to force open a crammed drawer.
One must always maintain one's connection to the past and yet ceaselessly pull away from it.
Why is there anxiety about a past we cannot change?  The top of my mind has no answer for this.
When you're forty, half of you belongs to the past—and when you are seventy, nearly all of you.

age 40 age 70

As the past has ceased to throw its light upon the future, the mind of man wanders in obscurity.
The only way you may correct the bad things in your past is to add better things to your future.
Why doesn't the past decently bury itself, instead of sitting waiting to be admired by the present?


A long past vividly remembered is like a heavy garment that clings to your limbs when you would run.
The present is the past rolled up for action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding.
Every journey into the past is complicated by delusions, false memories, false namings of real events.
Hope resides in the future, while perspective and wisdom are almost always found by looking to the past.

future wisdom

You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.

moving forward

The past is not simply the past, but a prism through which the subject filters his own changing self-image.


History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.
The older one becomes the quicker the present fades into sepia and the past looms up in glorious technicolor.

age memory

No man can put a rope on the past and hope to snub it down. The best thing is to learn to ride the new trails.
I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes.
I tell you yesterday is a wind gone down,
a sun dropped in the west.
If the past has been an obstacle and a burden, knowledge of the past is the safest and the surest emancipation.
The glimmering world is the past.  And everybody inherits a past.  And it glimmers either happily or miserably.
The past has meaning as it lights up the present, and the future as it makes the present richer and more profound.


An unhappy past always carries painful memories, though it looks at one with ghostly eyes that have lost their fire.
Drop the last year into the silent limbo of the past.  Let it go, for it was imperfect, and thank God that it can go.

new year

Each had his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by heart; and his friends could only read the title.
It is discouraging to leave the past behind only to see it coming toward you like the thunderstorm which drenched you yesterday.
We ought not to look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dear bought experience.
Never bear more than one kind of trouble at a time. Some people bear three— all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have.

future present moment worry

Living in the past is a dull and lonely business; and looking back, if persisted in, strains the neck-muscles, causes you to bump into people not going your way.
The past is our definition.  We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.
The story and study of the past, both recent and distant, will not reveal the future, but it flashes beacon lights along the way and it is a useful nostrum against despair.
Without the faculty of forgetting, our past would weigh so heavily on our present that we should not have the strength to confront another moment, still less to live through it.



The past, -- well, it's just like
our Great-Aunt Laura,
who cannot or will not perceive
that though she is welcome,
and though we adore her,
yet now it is time to leave.
I'm a refugee from the past, and like other refugees I go over the customs and habits of being I've left or been forced to leave behind me, and it all seems just as quaint, from here, and I am just as obsessive about it.
The person intent on self-renewal will have to deal with the ghosts of the past—the memory of earlier failures, the remnants of childhood dreams and rebellions, and the accumulated grievances and resentments that have long outlived their cause.
We are all our own graveyards, I believe; we squat amongst the tombs of the people we were. If we're healthy, every day is a celebration, a Day of the Dead, in which we give thanks for the lives that we lived, and if we are neurotic we brood and mourn and wish that the past was still present.

profound the self

All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.

present moment