Heraclitus is possibly most remembered as stating that one cannot step into the same river twice. This is a very famous over used and somewhat misunderstood quote. One way to interpret what the pre-socratic philosopher was stating is that one cannot step into the same reality twice. Reality as a river then. We the pebbles and stones bobbing and ebbing, weaving and crashing along. Does a pebble know its nature? Can we?
Generally we are pebbles that are generally unawares about what we know and cling to things rather than letting go into things as they are. Sometimes though we get a glimpse into reality as it is. There is a great existential weight to this realisation of ourselves coursing along in this stream. Dylan notes and bemoans in Like a Rolling Stone as the lead character in the song is bitterly thrown out of the hip life of rolling drown the river unawares trapped into the phenomenal clinging -
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin' out
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.
How does it feel?
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone ?
How does it feel? That metallic hollow lonely dredged as ghosts drag the chains of time through your sternum. How does it feel? Loss and the ills of reality. What remains? What can remain?
If we look finally towards medieval Japan we can perhaps find our answer from Basho: summer grass - the ruins of a soldier’s dream
Let go! The grass will grow. The pebbles will roll. Float down stream. Dislodged and help the other pebbles along the way. The river will remain. The grass will grow. You can’t step into the same reality twice. You can’t live the same situation twice. Let go. Why hold on?