The Eternal Return to the River

Heraclitus’ river can be seen as a metaphor for many things. Sometimes I think of life as the river. Life is always changing.  We are in a flow of existence, with movements and currents, ebbs and eddies, sometimes being tossed about, sometimes moving with swift purpose. In every moment that I encounter this river of life, a “new I” steps into a “new life” and the encounter forever changes both.

Sometimes I think of relationships as the river. Repetitive interactions have a pattern, a dynamic, a rhythm that I step into and out of. I am familiar with the bends, turns, lulls, and rapids of many of my frequent interactions – like with those of family, friends, and co-workers. I know the types of conversations I will have; I can anticipate the movements, inflections, reactions, and responses – both mine and the other person’s. This familiarity lulls me, not unlike watching the lazy flow of a wide, slow-moving river. In this lull, I can forget that life is also the river, and that both I and the other person are new and fresh, and the river of our relationship is ever-changing.

Sometimes I intentionally enter my thoughts as the river. I enter into a thought and move with it. I feel it, ride its energy, and see where it takes me. I start with a word—like love or gratitude or life or freedom or forgiveness. The words are only the entry. Once I am immersed, the word broadens and becomes no longer a mere symbol; it becomes a concept with meanings and variations and diverse contexts and new meanings.

How many ways are there to think of love? How many ways are there to express love, gratitude, and forgiveness? How many times does the river change? How many times do I change? Do you change?

The river is infinite.

I am infinite.

You are infinite.

We can return to the “same” river, the “same” life, the “same” relationship, the “same” concept over and over, again and again… but never really return.

For my previous post on this subject follow the short link:

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