No Man Steps In The Same River Twice

Heraclitus said that no man steps in the same river twice. What does that mean? And how does going back to the river improve our lives?

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”― Heraclitus

If you’ve come across something that changed your life, you should return to it.

Not because you’ll get the same effect, but because your second, third, and nth encounter with it will be different each time.

It’s true that no man steps in the same river twice. The waves are different. The sand has shifted. The fish that populated the waters have been plucked by delighted fishermen. Even if you step in, step out, and step right back in, you will still be entering a different body of water the second time.

No man ever steps in the same river twice.

But there’s another piece of this that is also true.

Prior to each entry, you’ve changed. You have new lessons learned, new relationships, and new aspects of your worldview. Not only did the river change. You did too.

You know that we’re not just talking about rivers. We’re talking about life.

When you return to something in your past, you approach it with everything that you are today. All your experiences, wounds, triumphs, and information learned.

Think of the last time you visited your alma mater. For me, I felt much different walking through the halls of my high school as a 24-year-old than I did as an eager 18-year-old ready to leave and embark on my next journey.

Of course I did. The school changed. I’m a different person.

Let this be an encouragement to re-engage with your past. A book you enjoyed. A song that touched you. A friend you haven’t seen for years.

Because when you engage with your past in the present, you find new meaning, new insights, and new life.

It’s not the same river. You’re not the same person.