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Seasons of change and currents flowing through river, Heraclitus, change is the only constant

Navigating the changing waters and seasons of life.

This was the title of my SAT essay, written on a balmy Saturday in a steamy CT classroom way back in 1985. How do I actually remember the content of that essay? I’ve never forgotten it because I’ve always seen it as a theme to my life.

Perhaps I didn’t fully realize this, though, until my father died in May 2010. Until that point, “change” meant moving a lot as a kid—new houses, new schools, new friends—and new jobs as an adult. Because of this semi-transient background, I’ve always prided myself on being easily adaptable to new people and situations, and it’s one reason why I think I like moving… the chance to start over in a new place with a new home.

Even when my father-in-law had a heart attack and passed away on Thanksgiving 2008, surrounded by his family and grandchildren, I didn’t see this devastating change as a harbinger of what was to come with my own father.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. My essay was heralding this as the truth since, as I concluded, “change is the only constant.” Little did I know at the time that this was a belief stated thousands of years ago by the greek philosopher Heraclitus, who purported that “the only thing that is constant is change.” His doctrine of change, as it has come to be called, is illustrated in this translation:

Upon those who step into the same rivers, flow other and yet other waters. All things . . . are in flux like a river.

The challenge is learning to navigate the current and keep your head above water.

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