No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.
Following on from last week’s post about change, I thought this well-known quote by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus would be an interesting addition to the discussion of impermanence. Whether he’s expounding his cosmology or engaging in the art of dialectics, Heraclitus is definitely inviting us to examine our relationship to the concept of impermanence—how we see life and how we see ourselves. We live most of our lives convinced that we and our surroundings are static, until “something” huge strikes and we remark that “something” has suddenly altered our previously permanent existence. As we discussed last week, sometimes it is these huge events that can actually wake us up to the nature of impermanence. This is, of course, a very complicated issue, especially in light of the recent natural disasters and the 16th anniversary of September 11. I would never propose any answers for why the good suffer; that’s beyond my ability or desire, and definitely beyond the scope of this post. But, I will say that rather than denying the inevitability of change, we might be better suited to accept change, go with it, tune into it, and see where it can take us. Having said that, I don’t think it follows that we should passively allow the winds of life to whip us around. It’s a constant balancing act, and personally, I adopt the powerful motto expressed in the final lines of my favorite Dylan Thomas poem: Do not go gentle into that good night; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.