You cannot step twice into the same river.Heraclitus 535 – 475 B.C.
That is how I always remember this quote, probably because I read the Plato version of it. I also understood it to mean that because the river is ever flowing, the river is ever changing, so even if you step into the river at the same spot, you are stepping into different waters.
So that’s like your community, which is why Tom Wolfe said you can never go home, again. You can’t return to your childhood and the things and friends you knew because they have all changed and moved onward. Not always for the better, but they have moved on. Right? By the way, Bon Jovi, the answer is Wolfe and Heraclitus, that’s who say you can never go home.
Don’t feel bad, Bon Jovi, I’ve only actually understood half the meaning of this quote for years. See, I finally realized the reason you can’t step into the same river twice is also because you yourself are not the same person. Each day you change a little. You experience a little more. Find out more about yourself and continue to change, just like the water in the river. I’ve come to understand this by watching my son grow up and then realizing how much I have changed over the years.
I wish I had come to this realization earlier in life and apparently, had I googled this quote, I would have known the full meaning of it much earlier as well.
You see, I wanted to make sure I got the wording right, so I did just that, and what came up is this translation of Heraclitus, “No man may step into the same river twice because the river is not the same, nor is the man.”
So what’s the point?
Well, certainly it proves the Greeks were indeed pretty smart, at least back then, but I’ve been thinking more about where I am in life, living in my hometown. See, I did come home to be near my folks and with my wife raise our son here in the mountains embrace, Reno.
I am a little sad, though that there has been so much change. Pastures that once held cattle, now hold corporate buildings, shopping centers and apartments. Restaurants where you could get the best hamburgers in the world on a date are no longer there. Bars where we drank and dreamed our futures up, are gone.
But it’s the friendships that have changed over time that I’m most sad about, though I also understand it. So many close friends have gone on with their lives over the last 20 or so years that I was gone. Some of them have moved away, most have started families, are raising, or raised kids. Have developed a rich and wonderful set of friends over the years that I’m just not a part of. I have to start over, in some ways. And I am, slowly.
But not all friendships have changed and gone away and that’s because our lives are not just like a river, but run deeper and wider than that eventually.
Our lives become like oceans, I think over time, with may rivers feeding into that ocean.
And there in those oceans are the friendships that endure. They may rise and ebb like a tide at times in our lives, but they are always there at their core, built on a bond that is deep.