Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Living in the past

Continuing to browse through The Quotable Chesterton (1986) I came across this from Avowals and Denials (1935):
We talk of people living in the past; and it is commonly applied to old people or old-fashioned people. But, in fact, we all live in the past, because there is nothing else to live in. To live in the present is like proposing to sit on a pin. It is too minute, it is too slight a support, it is too uncomfortable a posture, and it is of necessity followed immediately by totally different experiences, analogous to those of jumping up with a yell. To live in the future is a contradiction in terms. The future is dead; in the perfectly definite sense that it is not alive. It has no nature, no form, no feature.... The past can move and excite us, the past can be loved and hated, the past consists largely of lives that can be considered in their completion, that is, literally in the fulness of life.
It would, of course, be preferable to know more of the past than just your own personal past.

The Quotable Chesterton, Ignatius Press, 1986

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