90 River Quotes That Apply to Life and Going With The Flow

These river quotes about life and love illustrate just how alike our lives and the river can be!

A river has often been used as a metaphor for life.

In fact, some believe comparing a river to life is the best metaphor there is!

Just how does a river compare to life though?

Well, rivers start off slowly, usually picking up speed and power as they crash over rocks or rush downhill.

People also start out not even being able to move on their own, but eventually, we get bigger and more capable.

We get better at encountering challenges, like rocks or hills in our path.

If we are lucky, those obstacles strengthen us.

Life and the river are also alike in the sense that things work best when we go with the flow! The river really has no choice and just flows.

Granted, there are things along the river that might slow it down, cause it to rush ahead, or change its direction, but very little can stop it from flowing.

We can be like the river and learn to adjust and adapt, changing course when necessary, but always flowing.

These beautiful river quotes about the flow will show you what I mean!

Don’t forget to also check out these ocean quotes that inspire beauty and depth.

If you like this article, we suggest you explore our most popular quotes article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily encouragement. 

Read more related content on our inspirational quotes category page.

Famous river quotes and sayings about the flow of the river

1. “I’m really quite simple. I plant flowers and watch them grow… I stay at home and watch the river flow.” — George Harrison

Famous river quotes

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2. “Between flattery and admiration there often flows a river of contempt.” — Minna Antrim

Famous river quotes and sayings about the flow of the river

3. “The blues is a mighty long road. Or it could be a river, one that twists and turns and flows into a sea of limitless musical potential.” — Billy Gibbons

river quotes from Billy Gibbons

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4. “The river flows at its own sweet will, but the flood is bound in the two banks. If it were not thus bound, its freedom would be wasted.” — Vinoba Bhave

river quotes on the river fflows at it's own sweet will

5. “A dream is like a river ever-changing as it flows and a dreamer’s just a vessel that must follow where it goes.” — Garth Brooks

dream river quotes

6. “I had no plans of any destination. I wish to flow like a river.” — Lailah Gifty Akita

river quotes about plans of any destination

7. “Be like a river. Be open. Flow.” — Julie Connor

river quotes about be like a river be open

8. “I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.” — John O’Donohue

river quotes to live like a river flows

9. “River is time in water; as it came, still, so it flows, yet never is the same.” — Barten Holyday

river quotes about river is time in water

10. “Rivers flow not past, but through us; tingling, vibrating, exciting every cell and fiber in our bodies, making them sing and glide.” — John Muir

Inspirational river quotes

You will also enjoy our article on water quotes.

Beautiful river quotes about love and life

11. “I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you till China and Africa meet and the river jumps over the mountain and the salmon sing in the street.” — W. H. Auden

Beafutiful river quotes

12. “Love, like a river, will cut a new path whenever it meets an obstacle.” — Crystal Middlemas

Beautiful river quotes about love and life

13. “Love is the river of life in the world.” — Henry Ward Beecher

river quotes about love

14. “For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.” — Kahlil Gibran

river quotes for life and death

15. “Life is like the river, sometimes it sweeps you gently along and sometimes the rapids come out of nowhere.” — Emma Smith

river quotes about life is like the river

16. “A river is water in its loveliest form, rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth through which the lifeblood returns to the heart.” — Roderick Haig-Brown

river quotes about the heart

17. “A river doesn’t just carry water, it carries life.” — Amit Kalantri

river quotes about a river doesn't just carry water, it carries life

18. “A good river is nature’s life work in song.” — Mark Helprin

river quotes about a good river is nature's life work in song

19. “The river waters quench the thirst of all living beings.” — Ram Nath Kovind

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wise river quotes

20. “Those who stand at the threshold of life always waiting for the right time to change are like the man who stands at the bank of a river waiting for the water to pass so he can cross on dry land.” — Joseph B. Wirthlin

more river quotes

21. “We must begin thinking like a river if we are to leave a legacy of beauty and life for future generations.” — David Brower

other river quotes

22. “Life is like a river. It will either drag you with its flow, or you can learn to surf. Choice is yours.” — Nitin Kishore Rawat

river quotes on life is like a river

Inspirational and wise river quotes to live by

23. “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” — Heraclitus

Inspirational and wise river quotes

24. “You drown not by falling into a river, but by staying submerged in it.” — Paulo Coelho

Inspirational and wise river quotes to live by

25. “If my ship sails from sight, it doesn’t mean my journey ends. It simply means the river bends.” — Enoch Powell

wise river quotes to live by

26. “Never insult an alligator until after you have crossed the river.” — Cordell Hull

river quotes for Instagram

27. “The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.” — Ross Perot

river quotes about the activist is not the man who says the river is diirty

28. “You can’t be unhappy in the middle of a big, beautiful river.” — Jim Harrison

river quotes on happiness

29. “A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” — Jim Watkins

river quotes about it's power

30. “The river moves, but it follows a path. When it tires of one journey, it rubs through some rock to forge a new way. Hard work, but that’s its nature.” — Kekla Magoon

river quotes on the river moves

31. “The river is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it’s going to go and where you’ll wind up. Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track. Don’t let anyone deter you from that.” — Eartha Kitt

32. “We steer the boat, we don’t alter the river.” — J. Earp

33. “A river has many curves, but it always reaches the ocean.” — Donald L. Hicks

Poetic river quotes that are simply moving and beautiful

34. “Many a calm river begins as a turbulent waterfall, yet none hurtles and foams all the way to the sea.” — Mikhail Lermontov

35. “True merit, like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes.” — Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax

36. “A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.” — Laura Gilpin

37. “If the earth is a mother, then rivers are her veins.” — Amit Kalantri

38. “To put your hands in a river is to feel the chords that bind the earth together.” — Barry Lopez

39. “He who does not know his way to the sea should take a river for his guide.” — Blaise Pascal

40. “The river has great wisdom and whispers its secrets to the hearts of men.” — Mark Twain

41. “Who hears the rippling of rivers will not utterly despair of anything.” — Henry David Thoreau

42. “Just as a drop of water in the ocean cannot avail much; but if a great river runneth into it, that maketh a great commotion.” — Jakob Bohme

River quotes on life lessons

43. “What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt – it is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.” — Hal Boyle

44. “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” — Mark Twain

45. “Beside the river there are two things you never forget, that the moment you look at a river that moment has already passed, and that everything is on its way somewhere else.” — Niall Williams

46. “Rivers are places that renew our spirit, connect us with our past, and link us directly with the flow and rhythm of the natural world.” — Ted Turner

47. “I was still water, held by my surroundings. I am now a river, carving my own path.” — Scott Stabile

48. “The river asked me who I was to be gazing so longingly into her curving body of cascading dreams and shifting beauty.” — Todd Crawshaw

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49. “The sun shines not on us but in us. The Rivers flow not past, but through us.” — John Muir

50. “Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” — A. A. Milne

More meaningful river quotes

51. “May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke

52. “Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.” ― Hermann Hesse

53. “There is another alphabet, whispering from every leaf, singing from every river, shimmering from every sky.” ― Dejan Stojanovic

54. “I like geography best, he said, because your mountains & rivers know the secret. Pay no attention to boundaries.” ― Brian Andreas

55. “On and on they flew, over the countryside parceled out in patches of green and brown, over roads and rivers winding through the landscapes like strips of matte and glossy ribbon.” ― J.K. Rowling

56. “They can stop a river by building a dam, but I will be damned if they can stop my river of blood flowing through my veins and heart.” ― Anthony Liccione

57. “But just as the river is always at the door, so is the world always outside. And it is in the world that we have to live.” ― Lian Hearn

58. “Spring buds burst to bloom, and the river carries their song of life.” ― Jayita Bhattacharjee

59. “The beauty of a river is best measured by the cleanliness of its water; the beauty of a person, by the cleanliness of his character!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

60. “Like the river, keep on flowing.” ― Avijeet Das

Other insightful river quotes

61. “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ― Rumi

62. “A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretence and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.” ― Maya Angelou

63. “It is from small streams that big rivers rise.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

64. “A winter message from the river: Never surrender! Life can try to stop you, but somehow find a way to flow!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

65. “The river embraces me and guides me to swim inside her and to drink the nectar of love from her bosom. She tells me her secrets and I tell her mine.” ― Avijeet Das

66. “A river will find its path to the ocean, be positive and be focused” ― P.S. Jagadeesh Kumar

67. “Do not despise the water droplets that you receive. Soon, they will be a river.” ― Bruce Mbanzabugabo

68. “Patience is the river that finds its way to the sea, by flowing through many confluences.” ― Mladen Đorđević

69. “Witnessing is not flowing with the current of the river but observing the flow from the bank of the river.” ― Amit Ray

70. “The river is constantly turning and bending and you never know where it’s going to go and where you’ll wind up. Following the bend in the river and staying on your own path means that you are on the right track. Don’t let anyone deter you from that.” ― Eartha Kitt

Inspirational River Quotes To Help You Overcome Obstacles

71. “Every time we see a river flowing forward with courage, deep in our hearts we know that we must do the same!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

72. “Rivers don’t drink their own waters; trees don’t eat their own fruits. The salt seasons the soup in order to have its purpose fulfilled. Live for others!” ― Israelmore Ayivor

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73. “I could wade into this river, let my sins drown to the bottom, let the waters carry me someplace far. Someplace with no ghosts, no memories, and no sins.” ― Khaled Hosseini

74. “A field which feeds you, a river which gives you water are much holier than all other so-called holy places!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

75. “Hope is a continuous flowing river.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita

76. “With heavy rainfall, the river will overflow its banks. This is the spirit of gratitude; the more grateful you are, the more your life overflows with abundance.” ― Lailah Gifty Akita

77. “The river of knowledge has no depth.” ― Chinonye J. Chidolue

78. “The flowing river nonchalantly reminds us of life: flowing relentlessly; flowing purposelessly. Life without purpose.” ― Girdhar Joshi

79. “When the river meets the sea, he dies! Because the character of the river is to flow and when the character dies, everything dies!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

80. “Every man has a river on his mind: The River of Thoughts! But not every man has a holy river on his mind: The River of Right Thoughts!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

River Quotes to Help You Navigate Through Life’s Journey

81. “It is pleasant to have been to a place the way a river went.” ― Henry David Thoreau

82. “I’ve known rivers: I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. My soul has grown deep like the rivers.” ― Langston Hughes

83. “You cannot step twice into the same river.” ― Heraclitus

84. “It’s organic. It’s like a river. One stream comes in and it meets another stream and becomes the Amazon.” ― Sam Pressman

85. “Mountains and rivers at this very moment are the actualization of the world of the ancient Buddhas.  Each, abiding in its phenomenal expression, realizes completeness.” ― Dogen

86. “All rivers, even the most dazzling, those that catch the sun in their course, all rivers go down to the ocean and drown. And life awaits man as the sea awaits the river.” ― Simone Schwarz-Bart

87. “All through the night, like the tumult of a river when it races between the cliffs of a canyon, in my sleep I could hear the steady roar of the passing army.” ― Richard Harding Davis

88. So our lives glide on: the river ends we don’t know where, and the sea begins, and then there is no more jumping ashore.” ― George Eliot

89. “Insanity makes the rivers flow.” ― Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

90. “Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths.” ― Muhammad Ali

What did you learn from these River quotes?

Rivers are more than just a metaphor for life, they are essential in their own right.

Why are rivers so important?

A river carries water and nutrients to other bodies of water, all of which are connected around the earth.

They also provide a habitat and food source for many animals and organisms.

The role of a river in the water cycle is to act as a drainage channel for surface water, which covers about 75% of the earth’s land.

Rivers are also an important component of travel routes.

These routes are used for tourism, exploration, commerce, and recreational purposes.

Rivers help keep the food supply up because they keep the soil fertile for farmers.

Rivers are also vital for providing energy thanks to water turbines and hydroelectric plants.

Rivers can also just be a lot of fun too!

On a hot summer’s day, a river is also the perfect place to get away for a nice cool float.

Or if you are more of an adventure seeker, you can go whitewater rafting.

Which of these river quotes and sayings is your favorite?

Let us know in the comment section below.

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