But there is no going back


“But to preserve something is to delay that act indefinitely. Maybe preserves are where a historian’s urges meet a cook’s capacities. I wish that I could put up yesterday’s evening sky for all posterity, could preserve a night of love, the sound of a mountain stream, a realization as it sets my mind afire, a day of harmony, ten thousand glorious days of clouds that will instead vanish and never be seen again, line them up in jars where they might be admired in the interim and tasted again as needed. My historian’s nature regards with dismay that all these things arise and perish, though there will always be more clouds and more days, if not for me or for you. Photographs preserve a little of this, and I’ve kept tens of thousands of e-mails and letters, but there is no going back.”

—Rebecca Solnit, from The Faraway Nearby



  1. Cherish whatever one can in a moment…it’s all illusory or transitory and either way it continues on. Something sad in that reality.


  2. i completely understand and identify with this. try as we might, there is no hanging onto it, except perhaps in our mind’s eye, and even then, it is only for a bit.


  3. I so love this. It makes having a memory fried by electroshock so much easier. I can’t recall any of those tasty jams and jellies. I can only open the new jar and take a whiff.


  4. The sentiments expressed here are so poignant, so bittersweet and so true. Savor the now–damned difficult to be sure, but really the only way….


  5. As a historian, I like this preserving perspective. In history we reveal in order to understand.
    …. There is a distinction between preserving and being attached to the past.


  6. I save emails, too, for that day I will go back and re-read them. And that day isn’t likely to come because each day I add more. Yet, I hold onto the illusion.


  7. Even preserves themselves will ultimately be consumed… enjoy the moment, express your gratitude, love freely, and live again.


  8. Life’s transience gets me every time.


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