The past is a vast stage for metamorphoses. The critic Hideo Kobayashi once remarked to Yasunari Kawabata, the author of "Snow Country".
"Not much can be expected out of a living human. What a man thinks, says, and does, is never reliably predictable, whether you speak of yourself or of others. It is next to impossible to make a living human the object of your appreciation or serious observation. On the other hand, the dead are quite admirable. Why is it that the impression and the whole character of a man become quite clear, once he is dead? It is quite probable that dead men are the only true human beings that we come to know in this world. Are we living humans only animals who gradually become true humans as we approach our mortal end?"
(Excerpt from "Reflections on the ever-changing", original Japanese text published in 1941. Translation mine)
What Kobayashi speaks of men here has a universal relevance. The past is never fixed, and the significance of a particular experience becomes clear only after some time has passed since its occurrence. Maturation requires the workings of time. A child is never a child as it happens. You can appreciate your own childhood in the true sense only after you become an adult, when you reflect on what happened so long ago.
One's past is a rich fountain of significant experience, just as the future is an arena for unpredictability. Only in the long-gone past can one find solace and the food for soul. With a will to recall and a freedom of imagination, the past becomes a realm of vivid close-to-heart.
Hideo Kobayashi (1902-1983)