You cannot step into the same river twice – Heraclitus.
Just over 10 years ago, for a number of reasons, I moved from Colorado to South Carolina. Obviously this is not the first time I’ve moved, nor is likely to be the last. The last few years I’ve planned to move back west, closer to family. I was not necessarily planning on moving back to Colorado, but definitely somewhere in the region. At the risk of sounding cliché, I came to a realization Saturday: I have no intention of moving west any more, even to Colorado. Let me tell you why.
Time passes. And while some things change slowly, they do change. Sure, I could move west if I wanted to. But it wouldn’t be the same. In the last 10 years, the west has changed. And more importantly, I have changed. No matter how hard I tried, I’d never be able to make things the same as they were. Few traps are as insidious as living in past glories.
You cannot step into the same river twice, but life is more than happy to repeatedly present you with the same lesson until you learn it. This is relevant for me because I went through something very similar as a child. When I was 11, my family relocated from small town Ohio to big city Colorado. The company my dad worked for gave him an ultimatum – move and work in their headquarters, or find another job. We talked about it as a family, and later that year we were on our way.
I was miserable and wanted nothing more than to move back to small town Ohio. As time passed, things got somewhat better, but I still wanted to move back. My parents knew I wasn’t happy, and honestly, I’m not sure they were very happy either. One day we were driving home, and mom and dad said something I never thought I hear them say. It seems a position had opened up in Ohio, and if he wanted it, the job was his. So they asked me if I wanted what I wanted for so long – did I want to move back to Ohio? It wouldn’t be where we’d came from, but still, it was back in Ohio.
Just like it did Saturday, the realization hit me. I could not step in the same river twice. Going back to Ohio would be pointless. Even if we went back to the same neighborhood, which we wouldn’t have done, everything would be different. The neighborhood would be different. I was different. So I told them the only thing I could – I said no. I let go of the dream or reliving the past, and got on with living my life.
In a way, I feel like I’ve just made the same decision in letting go of the wish to move back west. I miss my family, good Mexican and Chinese food, I miss snow, at least now and then, the mountains, and the lack of better defined seasons. But I don’t miss the coldness of the people, the sub-zero temps, the traffic, the standing in line, or the higher cost of living.
Sometimes I think some of my friends are learning their own version of this lesson in some form or another. Where I’m at now everyone seems bent on recreating their college days. That’s my perception, anyway. It’s neither good nor bad, it simply is what it is. We all have our challenges.
It makes me wonder though. What else can I let go of and stop trying to step into the same river twice? What about you?