Printable Reminder: The Past Didn't Go Anywhere

I’m taking a weekend off (technically) but I am stopping in to share a print inspired by the words of one of my favorite historians/musicians/elders-Utah Phillips. Utah collected and shared stories about American history and the lives of the working class among many other things. I’ve been listening to and learning from him for over 10 years and was lucky enough to see him in person twice. On the way home from the cottage last night I was thinking about the past and realized this quote needed to be shared here:

the past didn't go anywhere, utah phillips print, respecting our elders


This is a snippet of a longer piece from the album The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere, a collaboration between Utah and a hero of my teen years, Ani DiFranco:

I have a good friend in the East. A good singer, and a good folksinger, a good song collector, who comes and listens to my shows and says, “You sing a lot about the past. You always sing about the past; you can’t live in the past, you know.” And I say to him, “I can go outside and pick up a rock that’s older than the oldest song you know and bring it back here and drop it on your foot.” Now, the past didn’t go anywhere, did it? It’s right here, right now – I always thought that anybody who told me I couldn’t live in the past was trying to get me to forget something that if I remembered it would get ’em in serious trouble.

No, it’s not that – that “that’s Fifties, Sixties, Seventies, Nineties” – that whole idea of decade packages. Things don’t happen that way… No, that, that packaging of time is a journalistic convenience that they use to trivialize and to dismiss important events and important ideas. I defy that. Time is an enormous, long river, and I’m standing in it, just as you’re standing in it. My elders are the tributaries, and everything they thought and every struggle they went through and everything they gave their lives to, and every song they created, and every poem that they laid down flows down to me – and if I take the time to ask, and if I take the time to see, and if I take the time to reach out, I can build that bridge between my world and theirs. I can reach down into that river and take out what I need to get through this world.

Listen to the song here or go buy the album-its brilliant.

That is what I hope we are doing this month with our Handmade Heritage theme-building a bridge from the past to the future, reaching down deep and finding what we need. Modern life might not have much respect for the past but we can choose to, I made this print as a reminder to respect the past-it is all around us and not going anywhere!

All Oh My! Handmade Goodness printables and free downloads are for non-commercial, personal use only please. Copyright is owned by the designer unless otherwise stated.  If you have a commercial inquiry please contact the designer or email the editor. Please don’t host the PDF on your own site, we love sharing but link to the original post for the download, thanks!


  1. Amazing.
    What an incredible reminder & metaphor.
    It’s always bothered me to hear the phrase, “the past is the past,” like it is something to be forgotten. So true that it is really still here with us, shaping who we are.

    Thank you so much for the lovely printable! xo, allisa

  2. Quite simply, without the past, where would we be today? Everything we have, everything we are, everything we will ever be is built upon the lessons from the past. That’s why I love to have vintage things around me. They are tangible reminders of that ‘bridge’. That bridge between what came before me, and what lies ahead. Gives me shivers just thinking about it : )

Comments are closed.