Tuesday, December 08, 2009

It is impossible to step into the same river twice

I went to a home of sorts this past week, not the home of my childhood but the vacation home of my children's childhood. The water of the cottage looked the same and even the docks were painted the same as I remember. My three kids learned to swim, caught fish, and had amazing adventures in life-jackets too big for them and then too small for them and then too big again. I felt a pang of nostalgia as the same three are now grown, living their own lives, and soon having their own children. I took off my shoes and stepped into the water and realized it was different now.

Heraclitus, who coined the above phrase, believed that the universe was always changing. He believed EVERYTHING was changing and in flux and that you could never go back again, even a second ago. Good words and a good story can take you to places you have been and even experience some of the emotions of that place in that time. While your mind can go back YOU cannot. We all know 40 year-old High Schoolers still living the great catch or the great shot as if it happened yesterday. We've all seen mature women dressed as teens trying to live that past memory. We all know the river has changed but yet we believe it looks the same.

There are some things that are better left in the past because it is a maturing process to get beyond it, there are some experiences we would rather NOT repeat that keep reoccurring. Past hurts, both physical and emotional, seem to be a river we keep stepping in as if it is happening all over again. It seems that we cannot grow beyond the level of maturity we were at when the hurt occurred, we seem to swim in the same river time after time. Professionals tell us to take out those hurts like stones in a backpack, to analyze them, find out where they came from, and then put them back in our pack so we can continue to carry them. Everything flows and nothing abides.

"How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on when you begin to understand that there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend. There are some hurts that are too deep and have taken hold." (Return of the King, JRR Tolkien)

"What if this is as good as it gets?" (Melvin in As Good As it Gets)

Well now I've done it. I've written myself into a corner with no way of getting out of it without depressing you. Maybe I'll leave you with another Heraclitus philosophical thought. He believed the world was constantly changing like the desk globe you remember on your teacher's desk, but there was something OUTSIDE the ever-changing cosmos that gave it order, meaning, and held it in place like the two points on the poles of the globe. Something he called the Logos. Hmm. Interesting.

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