No man steps in the same river twice

I love this quote, and here is the full version: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man” (Heraclitus). In the past, I fixated on the “[for] he’s not the same man” part of the quote. I thought, every time I face a challenge, I’m benefiting from all the past work I’ve done and all the experiences I’ve had. Each moment, a new me is born, and this is the me that engages with the world anew. 

More recently, the “for it’s not the same river” bit has become more salient to me. As I wrote in my (senior thesis) solo show, “I thought I found myself over my gap year, I thought I had grown self-confidence, and had learned how to love myself. It’s funny which lessons you have to relearn over and over. Life is so weird, and beautiful like that.” 💕 What those lines don’t capture is how frustrating it feels to struggle with the same thing, over and over again. 

But actually, what I realized, and what Heraclitus’s quote is pointing to, is that you are never struggling with the same thing, over and over again. The river is not the same river! During my gap year, I gained more confidence in my appearance. Now, my appearance is different, and rather, my focus is on becoming more confident in my fundamental goodness. During my gap year, I was able to speak up for myself and my needs for the first time. Now, I’m learning how to do that internally, and in every moment. These examples are more extreme for the sake of illustration, but in the smaller daily interactions, I try to remind myself that each time I feel like I keep facing the same problem, that it is different this time. And that I will learn something new from facing it this time, that because I’m not the same woman, the problem must also not be the same problem. If it were the same problem, then I wouldn’t be struggling with it, because I can trust that I’ve learned and grown from the past. 

Have faith in the fact that “no effort is wasted.”1 Because it’s impossible to live without learning and growing.


1 Attributed to my friend Tasshin’s mentor, Ben Mosior.


Comments

  1. I came across the quote recently, awesome illustration btw, Thanks for doing this

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