Crossings

A man never crosses the same river twice, for that is not the same river, nor is that the same man.

Each Wednesday, I walk across the campus of my alma mater. Each time, I recall the Johnny who first walked it 18 years ago. Though the surroundings look similar and save for a few signs of age, I look similar as well, it’s still easy to say: it is not the same, nor am I.

Year by year, it becomes easy for us to release our attachment to our former selves. Time gives us the space to distance the present from the past. We are not the same from 18 years ago. That is an easy truth.

As time compresses from year to month to day to hour to minute to second, the truth becomes uneasier. Nonetheless, the truth is still true: the river is not the same, nor are we.

What would happen if we approached every waking morning with this truth? What would we take on by intention of present choice rather than by inheritance of previous choice? How would that shift the relationships we have with our choices?

The distinction is profound for me. For instance:

I don’t stay in my marriage because I gave a vow to stay married. I renew my vows every day.

I don’t stay in my work because I signed an agreement to work. I sign up to work every day.

We cross rivers and rivers cross us. The crossing happens regardless. The space of all possibilities exists in this lacuna. Cross accordingly.

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