I’ve been reflecting on a quote by Socratic philosopher Heraclitus the past couple of days:
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
In other words, it is impossible for us to relive the past exactly as we first experienced it because the world is always changing and so are we.
Think about a river and how the water runs through it. Step into the river. The water that swirls around your ankles in one moment will be different in the next moment. The river is always flowing. The silt under your feet, the nearby fish and critters…all of them are moving and flowing along with the river. One day, should you return to the same spot along the river, it will have changed. You will have changed, too.
When we experience the river of life, we do so through the lens of who we are in any given moment. Our lens is always changing, tinted with our own unique combination of the experiences we accumulate throughout our lives. We can never relive the past exactly as we experienced it in the past, but we can cultivate an appreciation for being able to experience elements from our past with a different perspective rather than attempting to force them to unfold as they did in the past.
I hadn’t drawn much before I began nature journaling in 2020. I’ve changed a lot since I first read The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws, and it’s likely I will learn many different lessons when I re-read it again in the future.* While I can’t go back and relive a moment (or book, meal, discovery, etc.) the same way I did the first time, I wonder what new lessons I might uncover along the way when re-visiting these experiences with a new perspective.
It’s an exciting prospect when you view each new moment as an opportunity to build on the past, making each moment that much richer. What would you notice differently if you looked at it a second time? What stories will you uncover when you step into the river?
*I have decided to re-read The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling by John Muir Laws and am excited to see what I learn the second time through.