To be like a river flowing – Part1

Paulo Coelho

“A river never passes the same place twice,” says a philosopher. “Life is like a river,” says another philosopher, and we draw the conclusion that this is the metaphor that comes closest to the meaning of life. Consequently, it is always good to remember during all the year to come:

A] We are always doing things for the first time. While we move between our source (birth) to our destination (death), the landscape will always be new. We should face these novelties with joy, not with fear – because it is useless to fear what cannot be avoided. A river never stops running.

B] In a valley we walk slower. When everything around us becomes easier, the waters grow calm, we become more open, fuller and more generous.

C] Our banks are always fertile. Vegetation only grows where there is water. Whoever comes into contact with us needs to understand that we are there to give the thirsty something to drink.

D] Stones should be avoided. It is obvious that water is stronger than granite, but it takes time for this to happen. It is no good letting yourself be overcome by stronger obstacles, or trying to fight against them – that is a useless waste of energy. It is best to understand where the way out is, and then move forward.

E] Hollows call for patience. All of a sudden the river enters a sort of hole and stops running as joyfully as before. At such moments the only way out is to count on the help of time. When the right moment comes the hollow fills up and the water can flow ahead. In the place of the ugly, lifeless hole there now stands a lake that others can contemplate with joy.


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  1. eleonora says:

    grazie..molto bella !!!

  2. […] you can also visit this. It describes the understanding of a river’s behaviour from a philosophical stand point. Like […]

  3. GB_Cobber says:

    Allow in your heart
    As wide river flow

    Allow it to start
    Let it be, let it go

    Allow it to learn
    Let is see, let it know

    Allow it to speak
    Set it free, let it show

    Allow it to love
    And it will


  4. Marie-Christine says:

    Chere Marie,
    Ce que vous avez ecrit est tellement beau que je vais essayer de le traduire.
    What you have written is so beautiful, I will attempt to translate it.

    “I love that metaphor because I love water in all its forms.

    Be that as it may, I slowly transform myself in water. This water from which I burst out at birth.Water is a Universal symbol because we are all born from amniotic fluid.

    In all the religions or myths, water holds a holy nature from life, from purification and social development.

    Our body contains water. Cry for water. With water we can transform the matter that feed us like the bread for example.
    Our planet is made of 80% water.We also have the spring waters who gush out. These spring waters that are not our will but gifts that God offers us and from which we can take advantage of.
    Numerous temples, churches, cathedrals are built on a water source.
    Numbers of sacraments are symbolised by water.

    Water is by its nature pure and transparent.It is a mighty figure of life or death, Like every might, it has a double-sided.

    I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to sail at sea for a while.The sea taught me that we do not fight the element, we go along with it. We observe it, we understand it and we adapt.
    The sea taught me that a boat is a very small walnut shell on this immense water.The sea taught me that our life and the ones of others are precious and that we must always be alert and responsible to preserve this priceless gift.The sea has taught me to be humble when it breaks and when weariness arrives.As paradoxal as this can be, I have never felt as free as on a boat.

    The river, like the sea recognises the human soul.It is the reflection of what we are at the moment.Chaotic, cheerful, thoughtful….I like the river for its thousands facets.
    If I must understand the holes in my life.They are necessary for my introspection and my transformation.As Nietzsche said “What does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

    Merci encore une fois pour ce partage.J’ai pleure quand je l’ai lu.

  5. THELMA says:

    Dearest Paul, ‘Silence is the language of the Angels’.. If you are an egoistic because you feel in tune with God in his house is a .. contradiction, because just being … with HIM makes us lose our egoistisch personality and become just ONE with Light! We can feel it .. everywhere… ! Just … open your ‘inner’ senses!

  6. Marie says:

    J’aime cette métaphore car j’aime l’eau sous toutes ses formes.

    Quoiqu’il en soit, je me suis lentement transformée dans l’eau. Cette eau qui a jailli pour me voir naí®tre. L’eau est un symbole universel puisque nous sommes tous nés de l’eau amniotique.

    Dans toutes les religions ou mythes, l’eau a un caractère sacré de vie, de purification et de développement social.

    Notre corps contient de l’eau. Pleure de l’eau. Avec de l’eau, nous pouvons transformer la matière pour nous nourrir comme le pain par exemple.
    Notre planète est constituée í  80 % d’eau. Nous avons également les sources qui jaillissent. Ces sources qui ne sont pas de notre volonté mais des dons que Dieu nous offre et dont nous pouvons profiter.
    Nombre de temples, églises, cathédrales sont construits sur une source d’eau. Nombre de sacrements sont symbolisés par l’eau.

    L’eau est par sa nature pure et transparente. Elle est force de vie et de mort. Comme toute force, elle est í  double face.

    J’ai eu l’immense chance de pouvoir naviguer sur la mer pendant un certain temps. La mer m’a appris que l’on ne combat pas un élément, on fait avec. On l’observe, on le comprend et on s’adapte. La mer m’a appris qu’un bateau est une toute petite coquille de noix sur cette immensité d’eau. La mer m’a appris que notre vie et celle des autres sont précieuses et qu’il faut toujours rester éveillée et responsable pour préserver ce don inestimable. La mer m’a appris í  íªtre humble lorsqu’elle se déchaí®ne et que la fatigue arrive. Aussi paradoxal que cela puisse paraí®tre, je ne me suis jamais sentie aussi libre que sur un bateau.

    La rivière comme la mer reconnaí®t l’í¢me humaine. Elle est le reflet de ce que nous sommes sur le moment. Chaotique, rieuse, pensive…J’aime la rivière pour ses milles facettes. Si je dois comprendre les trous d’eau dans ma vie, ils me sont nécessaires pour mon introspection et mon renouveau. Comme dit Nietzsche : « ce qui nous ne nous tue pas nous rend plus fort ».

  7. Irina Black says:

    “The Right Moment”.By hurring up-the heart “would be like a cup,that somebody had drunk away”,by slowing down instead of a lake-swamp appears-it should be the Third Way..

  8. THELMA says:

    It seems that after the river has passed many obstacles, difficulties, changed route, united with other.. brooks, run quicker or has been a cataract, it is reaching finally the SEA. The scenery is becoming calmer, more peaceful and he is … eager to reach to his ..home.. And then the circle – after a moment or thousand of years- starts again..

    1. aditya says:

      Hi T,

      if you have ever listened to a river, u may recollect that the egerness in its steps while crossing mountains are not egerness of recahing somewhere, its the egerness of youth. river just flows, it has no destination, it is not looking for sea as it’s home or destination, rivers love to flow and they flow, for the river god knows at each moment that there is no home, no destination other than where river is now. abandon the search and find !


    2. THELMA says:

      Dear Aditya, your wonderful words brought tears in my eyes.. Sometimes I feel so helpless and yes, eager to ‘return’ home…
      Yes you are fully right, the destination is ‘here and now’.. For a moment I have lost my North Star, as Paulo Coelho has so beautifully said the other day…
      Thank you … brother Aditya.

  9. Alexandra says:

    I read these lines last year, and as a coincidence,I found a nice lonely place near the river.Was always inspiring peace,and I used to watch the birds flying, the fish in the river,the trees …One felt so near to God.

  10. Meu tempo, fervendo,
    Um rio nascendo
    Imerso n’água,
    Nada vendo, me aquecendo.

    Meu tempo, fervendo,
    Um rio nascendo,
    Subindo e virando,
    …E a vida crescendo.

    Meu tempo, fervendo,
    Um rio nascendo,
    Dormindo, rolando…
    O que está acontecendo?


  11. Monika says:

    I am dreaming of a great plain, where I could meander jovially and simply let it flow – at least for some time. Have too much rapids behind me.

  12. Dear all,

    (I am not trying to copy the idea of Paulo but I am influenced by his writings and trying to present the same idea in little different ways.)

    Life is like flowing river and flowing times. One philosopher said, “I am flowing with this river and I don’t know where I will end, I know my source and my destination but I don’t know how I am going to flow like this river.” Another philosopher said, “You know the river but you forgot the time”

    Without the right time on your side you are not going to make it, you are just flowing but you never know if you are going to be dry like a pond.

    A] life is filled with pain and the river which flows are the tears streaming across to one destination.

    B] May by the grace of God or May by the will of love, life moves like a flowing river and finds its true path and final destination.

    C] Looking back will only be the memories and the path which the river followed will bring joy to every individual who will come near to the river. Again, there is time. Who knows if the river no longer exits, who know if the river was no longer continuing the same path, who knows if the river lost it in between.

    D] Change and only change determines the existence of the flowing river with time. If river remains the same and if the river stops flowing nobody is going to flow with the same river.

    E] Existence is not question but answer, life is like flowing river but with changing time even sometimes flowing river has to change its path, even sometimes it has to change direction, even sometimes it dries maybe it the vapor produced are happiness which last only for few moments. Most of the times, it has to flow and most of the time it has to slow.

    Therefore, just follow your dreams and desires, move on like flowing river or move on with pain, life is all about taking risk and giving pleasure to all those who need. Everything else remains secondary.

    God blesses you all !


    God bless you all !

  13. Britny Locke says:

    This reminds me of something I read in a book explaining Anicca of Buddhist Ethics. It stated:

    “Anicca is ‘impermanence’ and refers to the fact that all of life, without exception, undergoes change. Each moment rises and falls. Each moment in time carries within itself life and death, being and nonbeing. Life is like a never-ending river.”

    I always loved that passage.

  14. Annette says:

    …But she looked at the Moon and thought :Well , I will a river because I know tomorrow I will be Sea , and our waters will be fused forever under the same Sky.Then , we’ll be strong and eternal and we’ll understand whatever we never said…only by this is a good reason.

  15. Cristina says:

    Johanne your reaction was beautiful and moving. I wish I could think more like you do. I have this awful tendency to make dumb situations into problems. Sometimes I feel like a mental masochist and that I can never just be. I always need to be struggling for something. I’m actively trying to solve this, but what would you suggest? Usually, in those moments I write about it because writing calms me down and at least I get something beautiful out of my anger.Do you do anything that calms you down?

    1. Cristina, I read your reply but have to go now for a meeting … Hope to come back in time! That is what I like the most, and tears are there for me, discovering that when I express really what is there it can touch someone, and that is of a great taste … I use to say that my stones of suffering are now for me a treasure of precious stones because they are now transmetting an essence of life for it was death for me before … See you later … Jojo

    2. Thank you Paul … Love, Jojo

    3. Cristina, that is what comes when I take time to visit what is there for me when I read your post … and please take this as a friend who shares what she experienced and does, and that maybe in that there is something that speaks to you …My reaction today is, from your words, beautiful, and you aspire to think more like I do … but be aware that I was not there not too long ago … you should have known me and see me go! You know, just recently, little things were like huge mountains … even if my mind evaluated it small, inside me it was like … difficult to describe … it was like shaking intensively, growing, anguish, etc … What I did … observed me, saw that something was wrong, prayed and confided to my friend who is massotherapist and does Reiki … she then offered me a massage mixed with energetic treatment … 1 hour and a half … That did me so good … that reconnected me to the energy of the Source … and also, I expressed, told what was all within me, and the fears that I try to mentally discard but that were slowly cristallising … So, you see, it is a mixing up that I do, that I learned to manage … write, read, love you enough to go to people who are capable of listening, of understanding, receive their force for the time being, and yes, believe in you and act … fears you know they stop action and irresponsibility (putting on to tomorrow) is the best thing to do to accumulate … then, explosion! You are aware of a “malfunction” … you have the tools inside you but sometimes we need others to help us “catalyse” them … you will find … for God puts them on our path when we desire “sincerely” to change to be closer to him …

  16. sido says:

    on the river of life, I puted my soul … Sometimes I see floating, dancing, jumping for joy,mingle my tears with drops of water, laughing as the glare of the sun shine on the surface of the water alive ,

    love is its vitality, and hope is the tenderness of my eyes as I gently deposited on it

  17. Heart says:

    Beautiful reflections, which could have been added to your novel; ‘By the River Piedra I sat down and wept’. In this novel you describe for us how a first love relationship is floating…the two lovers first being together, then parted, then reunited, tender feelings floating in the river of true love.

  18. Marie-Christine says:

    “we are there to give the thirsty something to drink”
    The source flows non stop.

  19. candieb says:

    I really like that passage,it’s a beautiful metaphor indeed.

  20. I like the writing about the landscape being always new. When you say that we always do things for the first time … in this life yes, but I think a repetition of something I knew, or experienced and living differently in this life. It is useless to fear, true, but like for sadness, see and accept that there is a fear, go in relation with it, and with respect, if not creative if I stay with it, ask it to pass by. A fear can also be an indicator of a real danger … The important thing is to continue my race to obtain my prize.

    Learn to walk slower, to contemplate, to cultivate calm, to be that valley and so be more open, full and generous, even when I walk on tumultuous grounds.

    Always be in conscience of who I am, connected to the Source, not emptying myself, not overcharging myself, but being a source that gives importance to the other one. Love means to say the truth, and truth is what the other needs. Water for me is the language of transparence, authenticity, of love for the other’s soul … when I am in relation, I need to see myself like that river and be that river. One at my contact should see and feel and be nourished by me. And if I feel that I am loosing energy, that dryness is there, maybe and yes I need to avoid the relation, the situation, to turn that stone for the time being and pray that someone takes that stone and work it into an object of art.

    And when I enter “the emptiness, the dark tunnel”, for I need to revisit that place, and there is no light for the time being, I still feel confident that I will see it. I go for help, talk, read, pray, meditate and yes, accept that new challenge for I know that I need to go there to become greater. I used to feel and react to the panic, anguish at those moments before, because scared of the dark, not able to see any light, but thank God today when I enter that moment, the time of cleaning and purification is getting less and less long in time and even then, I can see a sparkle of light … for this I thank God and his army of Angels of helping me getting there, for I know and experienced staying in that tunnel long times and suffering … Thank you for transmitting those messages … With affection, Jojo

  21. Nephthys says:

    that is a beautiful reminder
    when sometimes the rapids and
    the whirlpools make us feel disoriented
    and its true the force of the river
    starts and then continues
    or continues going underground
    to re emerge a spring again
    or rain

  22. tinni says:

    das leben ist wie ein teaterstück, nur ohne probe…

  23. marja says:

    Great analogy It feels peacefull to flow with the river, meandering through the landscape of life and trying to avoid the obstacles and I think hollows are good Time to contemplate and reflect before moving on. Have a great day and thanks for sharing

  24. Heart says:

    Annie dearest,

    I’m so happy to see you BELIEVE in love. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry yesterday reading about those young Greek ‘Casanovas’ counting their experiences. 80!…80? Geeezzz.
    One person who disgust me beyond what I can explain is Hugh Hefner, the founder of the Playboy magazine, who in his old age lives with several very young girls, and they make a reality tv called ‘The girl next door’ or something like that. He once said straight out in an interview, that he has slept with something like 1000 women! I about through up thinking about it.

    Anyway, most men are not like him, thank god. You will find YOUR prince of your dreams, and the river always washes away all our sad love encounters.

    Luv you sis,

  25. THELMA says:

    Hi .. sisters!! Heart and Annie.. Here you speak about … reality and me sitting here, I am dreaming of … SWANS and .. monogamy!!;]