Posterity will say as usual: “In the past things were better, the present is worse than the past”.
—Anton Chekhov (1860–1904) Russian Short-Story Writer
Vanity plays lurid tricks with our memory.
—Joseph Conrad (1857–1924) Polish-born British Novelist
A lot of people go through life like they are rowing a boat. They look at where they have been (the PAST) rather than where they are going (the FUTURE).
Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.
—Oprah Winfrey (b.1954) American TV Personality
It’s easy to carry the past as a burden instead of a school. It’s easy to let it overwhelm you instead of educate you.
—Jim Rohn (1930–2009) American Entrepreneur, Author, Motivational Speaker
A safe but sometimes chilly way of recalling the past is to force open a crammed drawer. If you are searching for anything in particular you don’t find it, but something falls out at the back that is often more interesting.
—J. M. Barrie (1860–1937) Scottish Novelist, Dramatist
The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to an idealised past.
—Robertson Davies (1913–95) Canadian Novelist, Playwright, Essayist
It is not the literal past, the “facts” of history, that shape us, but images of the past embodied in language.
—Brian Friel (1929–2015) Irish Dramatist, Short Story Writer
Everyone knows the usefulness of the useful, but n o one knows the usefulness of the useless.
—Zhuang Zhou (c.369–c.286 BCE) Chinese Taoist Philosopher
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
—L. P. Hartley (1895–1972) British Writer, Critic
The moments of the past do not remain still; they retain in our memory the motion which drew them towards the future, towards a future which has itself become the past, and draw us on in their train.
—Marcel Proust (1871–1922) French Novelist
There is (as I now find) no remorse for time long past, even for what may have mortified us or made us ashamed of ourselves when it was happening: there is a pleasant panoramic sense of what it all was and how it all had to be. Why, if we are not vain or snobbish, need we desire that it should have been different? The better things we missed may yet be enjoyed or attained by someone else somewhere: why isn’t that just as good? And there is no regret, either, in the sense of wishing the past to return, or missing it: it is quite real enough as it is, there at its own date and place
—George Santayana (1863–1952) Spanish-American Poet, Philosopher
One’s past is what one is. It is the only way by which people should be judged.
—Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) Irish Poet, Playwright
There is no past that we can bring back by longing for it. There is only an eternally new now that builds and creates itself out of the Best as the past withdraws.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) German Poet
Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That signifies nothing. For us believing physicists the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
—Albert Einstein (1879–1955) German-born Physicist
Mr. Meant-to has a friend, his name is Didn’t-Do. Have you met them? They live together in a house called Never-Win. And I am told that it is haunted by the Ghost of Might-have-Been.
—Marva Collins (b.1936) American Educator
That though the radiance which was once so bright be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower. We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.
—William Wordsworth (1770–1850) English Poet
In every loving woman there is a priestess of the past—a pious guardian of some affection, of which the object has disappeared.
—Henri Frederic Amiel (1821–81) Swiss Moral Philosopher, Poet, Critic
Study the past, if you would define the future.
—Confucius (551–479 BCE) Chinese Philosopher
We are 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 4am of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.
—Joan Didion (b.1934) American Essayist, Novelist, Memoirist
The past is a guidepost, not a hitching post.
—Thomas L. Holdcroft
Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it.
—George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans) (1819–80) English Novelist
They spend their time looking forward to the past.
—John Osborne (1929–94) English Playwright, Actor
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put the past together again. So let’s remember: Don’t try to saw sawdust.
—Dale Carnegie (1888–1955) American Self-Help Author
The present contains nothing more than the past, and what is found in the effect was already in the cause.
—Henri Bergson (1859–1941) French Philosopher, Evolutionist
The function of posterity is to look after itself.
—Dylan Thomas (1914–53) Welsh Poet, Author
What is past is prologue.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
The past always looks better than it was; it’s only pleasant because it isn’t here.
—Finley Peter Dunne (1867–1936) American Author, Writer, Humorist
The rewards in life go to those who are willing to give up the past
Fearfulness, contrary to all other vices, maketh a man think the better of another, the worse of himself.
—Philip Sidney (1554–86) English Soldier Poet, Courtier
The past should be a springboard, not a hammock.
—Ivern Ball (1926–92) American Writer, Aphorist
The past itself, as historical change continues to accelerate, has become the most surreal of subjects—making it possible… to see a new beauty in what is vanishing.
—Susan Sontag (1933–2004) American Writer, Philosopher
We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.
—Frederick Douglass (1817–95) American Abolitionist, Author, Editor, Diplomat, Political leader
The people who get into trouble in our company are those who carry around the anchor of the past.
—Jack Welch (1935–2020) American Businessperson
Because men really respect only that which was founded of old and has developed slowly, he who wants to live on after his death must take care not only of his posterity but even more of his past.
—Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) German Philosopher, Scholar, Writer
‘Tis not to see the world
As from a height, with rapt prophetic eyes,
And heart profoundly stirred;
And weep, and feel the fullness of the past,
The years that are not more.
—Matthew Arnold (1822–88) English Poet, Critic
To be able to look back upon one’s past life with satisfaction is to live twice.
—Martial (40–104) Ancient Roman Latin Poet
There is nothing new, but what has become antiquated.
The investor of today does not profit from yesterday’s growth.
—Warren Buffett (b.1930) American Investor
The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet.
—Cyril Connolly (1903–74) British Literary Critic, Writer
Praising what is lost makes the remembrance dear.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
If you want to succeed in your life, remember this phrase: The past does not equal the future. Because you failed yesterday; or all day today; or a moment ago; or for the last six months; the last sixteen years; or the last fifty years of life, doesn’t mean anything…All that matters is: What are you going to do, right now?
—Tony Robbins (b.1960) American Self-Help Author, Entrepreneur
To look back to antiquity is one thing, to go back to it is another.
—Charles Caleb Colton (c.1780–1832) English Clergyman, Aphorist
Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future.
—Denis Waitley (b.1933) American Motivational Speaker, Author
The past is only the present become invisible and mute; and because it is invisible and mute, its memorized glances and its murmurs are infinitely precious. We are tomorrow’s past.
—Mary Webb (1881–1927) English Novelist, Poet, Writer
While I take inspiration from the past, like most Americans, I live for the future.
—Ronald Reagan (1911–2004) American Head of State
The destruction of the past is perhaps the greatest of all crimes.
—Simone Weil (1909–1943) French Philosopher, Political Activist
Posterity will pay everyone their due.
—Tacitus (56–117) Roman Orator, Historian
The past is all holy to us; the dead are all holy; even they that were wicked when alive.
—Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) Scottish Historian, Essayist
I never look back, I look forward.
—Steffi Graf (b.1969) German Tennis Player, Philanthropist