13 Harry Potter Quotes About The Past

I'm nearing my 26th birthday, and my own past seems to be growing more complicated as I age. I can't help but dwell on things long passed, but luckily these incredible, inspiring Harry Potter quotes about the past have helped give me clarity and a hope for a brighter future.

As Dumbledore famously told Harry as he sat in front of the mirror of Erised wishing his parents back to life, "It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." For Harry, his dream was to go back in time to a past where his parents were alive and happy and his family was whole. So many of us have these overwhelming feelings of longing, regret, and nostalgia for the past, and sometimes, it can be hard to be in the present — let alone take a step into the future. Our pasts, whether they're filled with cherished memories or tragic heartbreak, are what shaped us into the people we are today. We can't let them go, but we can't let them consume us, either.

For those who get too caught up in yesterday to focus on today (and tomorrow!), here are 13 Harry Potter quotes about the past to help you survive. Trust me, this series knows a thing or two about happier days gone by, but it never stops fighting for a happier future.

1. "Time is making us fools again."

— Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Isn't it the truth?

2. “From this point forth, we shall be leaving the firm foundation of fact and journeying together through the murky marshes of memory into thickets of wildest guesswork.”

― Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The past isn't as set in stone as you might think. The older we grow, the more experiences we have, and the more hindsight we get, the more our memories — and our impressions of our past— change. It's tricky business.

3. "Hey! My eyes aren't 'glistening with the ghosts of my past'!"

— Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

When people learn about our pasts, they might be distracted by who we were, and not who we are. Be like Harry, and call them out for it, won't you? Don't let someone make you out to be someone you're not.

4. "I say there are spots that don’t come off… Spots that never come off, d’you know what I mean."

— Mad-Eye Moody, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Somethings in our past — first loves and heartbreaks, our deepest regrets, our biggest mistakes — stay with us forever, no matter how hard we try and let them go. They become part of who we are.

5. “I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.”

— Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

It's easy to get overloaded with memories and thoughts of our past. That'e when you need to relax, take a deep breath, and empty some of them out into a Pensieve... that is, if you have one. Otherwise, a vent session to a good friend can do the same.

6. “The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”

— Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

We may think that, because of things we have done in our pasts, that our futures are set in stone, but if Harry Potter taught us anything about past and future, it is that the two have a much more complicated relationship than that. The future, no matter how much you know about the past, cannot be guaranteed.

7. "It matters not what someone is born, but what they grown to be."

— Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Our pasts, especially the parts of it we cannot control, like the family we were born into or the circumstances of our childhood, don't have to define us. It isn't what we were that matters, but who we chose to be.

8. He had no memory of ever being hugged like this, as though by a mother. The full weight of everything he had seen that night seemed to fall in upon him as Mrs. Weasley held him to her. His mother's face, his father's voice, the sight of Cedric, dead on the ground all started spinning in his head until he could hardly bear it, until he was screwing up his face against the howl of misery fighting to get out of him.

― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Cue the tears.

9. The light was coming from the Pensieve sitting on Snape's desk. The silver-white contents were ebbing and swirling within. Snape's memories... things he did not want Harry to see if he broke into Snape's defences accidentally.

— J.K. Rolwing, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Our pasts, clouded with memory and emotion, are personal and private, or so we'd like them to be.

10. "I just feel so... angry, all the time., and what if after everything I've been through, something's gone wrong inside me. What if I'm becoming bad?"

— Harry Potter, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Our pasts have a large hand in shaping the people we become, and sometimes, that can be terrifying. In the end, though, we are the ones who define who we become, not all the bad things that have happened to us. We have to power to decide how much we want our pasts to define our futures.

11. Harry looked up at it, and all of a sudden a knife-sharp memory came to him: standing on this very spot on the day that he had turned eleven, the most wonderful birthday of his life, and Hagrid standing beside him saying, ‘Like I said, yeh’d be mad ter try an’ rob it.’ Gringotts had seemed a place of wonder that day, the enchanted repository of a trove of gold he had never known he possessed, and never for an instant could he have dreamed that he would return to steal...

— J.K. Rolwing, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The past is complicated, especially when it comes crashing into our present. Nostalgia can cut deep.

12. "Voldemort is my past, present, and future."

— Tom Riddle, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Sometimes, it seems like out past, present, and future are predetermined. There are somethings that are just meant to be, including the people we become.

13. "Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it."

Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

You can only ignore the past for so long. Eventually, you have to face it, head-on, no matter how painful it may seem.

Images: Warner Bros.; Giphy (14)