I was watching “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” today on DVD (a wonderful film), when I heard one of the characters say:
“There is no past that we can bring back by longing for it. Only a present that builds and creates itself as the past withdraws.”
This was such an amazing line that I paused the film to look it up. A quick Google search revealed it to be a slight variation of the English translation of a saying attributed to Goethe:
“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.”
The original is a bit more ungainly in English (I can see why they streamlined it) but also more positive. Whereas the line in the film is somewhat fatalist, Goethe’s original conveys a very charming Karma: If you are able let go of the past, then your life going forward will build upon the best parts of that past.
It really is a beautiful thought, isn’t it? True, wise, very simple to understand, yet incredibly difficult to live up to in practice.
Interestingly, I was not able to find this quote in the original German. If anybody knows it, please tell me.