Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » You Can’t Go Back

You Can’t Go Back

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 31, 2013

This seems relevant to us who love the past — and of course he says it so beautifully:

Richard L. Evans
Music and the Spoken Word
October 17, 1948

You Can’t Go Back

Perhaps most of us at times cherish the thought that we would like to go back – back to try over – or back to enjoy once more the reality of some of our memories.

But places long unseen often loom larger in memory than they really are. That haystack on the old farm was surely much higher than now it seems. That green lane was surely longer and lovelier than this. And that high fence in the back yard and the tree we climbed to look over it – surely they were an important part of the universe. And the old house had yawning caves in the closets, and untold mysteries in that deep cellar and up in that beckoning yet forbidding attic. Why, that house couldn’t have been as small as now it seems. surely it couldn’t be I who have changed!

I remember these things, and they were real, and and they are real now where I keep them in remembrance.

And all those things we used to do and think and feel before life put its heavy hand upon us – where and how did we lose them? Perhaps some of the values we had in childhood were safer and better than some we have acquired since.

Perhaps the things we remember haven’t changed so much. Perhaps the change has been in us. But we can’t go back.

Oh, of course, we may possibly go back to the scenes of our childhood, and we may expect to find in them all that we found in them then, but surely we shall find that they seem to have shrunk, somehow – that they don’t look the same. perhaps we’ll find that it isn’t just old and familiar scenes so much as childhood itself we are looking for – and that, I’m afraid, we can’t have. Not now! We can’t go back – not even to find out if that’s what we want. And really I think we wouldn’t want to.

But perhaps there is something we’d like to make right back there – something we wouldn’t have done if we had known what we know now. But we can’t go back – not even for that.

And it’s just as well. The things back there belong back there. We can’t go back any more than the world we live in can go back. No matter what doors regretfully are closed behind, no matter what past we have been reaching for, our efforts had better turn about to face the future – and to begin to work it out today and tomorrow. Call it repentance if you want to; give it any name you please – but the best thing we can do is to make sure we are traveling in the right direction, beginning now. There is nothing back there for anyone, but there are limitless, eternal possibilities ahead, now and forevermore. But you can’t go back – don’t try to.



  1. That was lovely and wise. I think maybe, in the eternities, you can go back again in a way, but only if that’s not your aim.

    Comment by Adam G. — January 31, 2013 @ 9:30 am

  2. That was awfully nice. I think that Elder Evans was at his best in these short “sermonettes” that he gave on the choir broadcasts.

    Comment by Mark B. — January 31, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

  3. Wise, yes, and hopeful too. A correction, or better yet a redirection, both for those who long for the past and also for those who perhaps want to escape from it.

    Comment by Aaron R. — February 1, 2013 @ 3:30 am

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