The past is beautiful

This day was more beautiful than I could have known at the time. Sunday dinner at home with our visiting PaPa and both Grannies, 1969.

This day was more beautiful than I could have known at the time.
Sunday dinner at home with our PaPa and Grannies on a rare visit from Alabama, 1969.

“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.”Virginia Woolf

Reading this quote, I can only wish that Woolf had thought of these words before she took her own life; perhaps she might have given herself time to discover that all was not as bleak as it must have seemed at the time.  In any case, she has left behind a wealth of her written thoughts to ponder, and this one rings true for me.

The years do change our perceptions of the past; often they soften and enhance them, so that they grow more beautiful with time.  My memories of my grandparents were precious to me when I was in my twenties and thirties, but all the more so now that I am the same age they were during my earliest recollections of them.  Conjecture and imagination now add depth to a picture that I was too young to fully comprehend.

Do you have memories about which your emotions have expanded, as Woolf describes?  Which of your present emotions may seem incomplete to you later, seen with the benefit of hindsight through the lens of passing time?

One year ago today:

History that teaches

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. Heba

    Wow Julia! I am sure that this post perfectly describes how we all feel about the past. That sense of diving into memories and always perceiving those times as better than today. One day, our present will be good memories too!!

    I’m happily following your posts daily dearest Julia, bless & your beloved ones 💗🌷

    • Heba, what a joy to hear from you! I’m far too late getting to these comments, but such a lovely surprise was awaiting me. I’ve thought of you often and hope you and your loved ones are well and happy. Thanks so much for being with us here! You are right, someday we will look back on these times and remember many beautiful moments amid even the craziness of the pandemic and all the changes it brought. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment here– you made my evening. 😀 ❤

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