A common theme has followed me the last little while. It has wound its way through my posts, my thoughts, and it seems in the daily discourse I have with songs I hear or poetry I read. It is the idea that as much as I try to hold on to the way things are, they are still in a constant rhythm of change. It reminds of Heraclitus’ quote: You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you. I find it is more complicated than that, as the same person cannot step into the river. With each ensuing moment, I change and the world I live in and with changes.
Yesterday, as I was driving home, Tommy Castro, a San Francisco blues performer, came on the radio with a song called It Is What it Is. The lyrics of the refrain go like this:
Yeah, I am what I am,
‘Cause I ain’t what I used to be.
‘Cause it is what it is,
But it ain’t what it used to be.
Sometimes, as much as I want things to remain the same or return to an idealized past, they cannot. Part of the reason, a big part, is I am not who I was a moment ago. Today, I flipped open one of the many books of poetry books I enjoy and found this William Stafford poem which echoed the lyrics above.
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you can do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.