The past is confusing

I am not a huge history buff. My father, on the other hand, adores history. Therefore I grew up knowing quite a bit about the past, but I never quite favoured it to the present.
I’m a strong believer in learning from our past, then moving forward. So I was kind of worried with this week’s book, knowing it was about history. Although I don’t find history boring in any way, depending on the author it can sometimes seem a bit dry.

I was pleasantly surprised with this book. Although I am not completely done (oops) I am definitely enjoying the change of pace from our previous books.

One quote that I have been trying to decipher is this:

“. . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past — or more accurately, pastness — is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past.” p. 15

At first read I literally thought… what?! Were those just words on a page? I feel like my mind just did a circle and realized I was right where I began.

After re-reading the page a few times (maybe more like 10 times), I think I am starting to understand it. Is it just a point about semantics, in the sense that we need to know present to know past? Or is it more than that?

Hopefully we’ll discuss this in our seminars. I definitely require some clarity here.