J.R. Miller, published 1913
We ought not to live in the past. We ought to forget the things that are behind — and reach forward to the things that are ahead. "Forward, and not back," is the motto of Christian hope. The best days are not any days we have lived already — but days that are yet to come.
Yet some people live altogether in their past. They love to recite the deeds they have done in former years. They believe in their old ways, and talk deprecatingly of the new ways — the innovations, the changes, of modern days. The past holds all their life’s hopes and treasures. They sit uncomforted by their graves. They mourn over its vanished pleasures as if never more would a rose bloom, or a violet pour its perfume on the air. They live as if the future had nothing for them — no joys, no hopes, nothing to be achieved, no love, no beauty. They seem like men who have been caught in a great sea of ice, and frozen fast in it, so that they cannot extricate themselves from its grip. The past holds them in a captivity, from whose meshes they cannot escape.
This is not a good use of the past. However happy we may have been in the days that are gone, that happiness will not satisfy our hearts in their present cravings. We cannot live today on yesterday’s bread. Last winter’s fires will not warm our house next winter. Last summer’s sunshine will not woo out the foliage nor paint the flowers of this summer. The past, however rich it may have been in its blessings, cannot be a storehouse from which we can draw supplies for the needs of the passing days. We cannot live on memories.