You drown not by falling into a river, but by staying submerged in it.

In life, one gets to face multiple setbacks and failures. But, with a positive attitude and mindset, those failures can be turned into victories. Quite interestingly, one doesn’t become a loser with failures and defeats unless he gives up. If circumstances are not in one’s control, how one would react to them is totally in one’s own control. Hence, either one would accept defeat and give up, or one would stand up again and fight to turn the failure into a victory. Indeed, Paulo Coelho has quite beautifully and aptly summed up this whole discussion by saying – “You drown not by falling into a river, but by staying submerged in it.”

One can relate this quotation by Paulo Coelho to the novel The Old Man and the Sea in which Ernest Hemingway has taught us a similar lesson. How Santiago (the old fisherman) remained unlucky in catching fish for eighty-four days. However, he remained resilient in the face of hard luck and decided to challenge it. Although he lost Marlin (the big fish) during his fight with the sharks, he became a hero due to his unshakable resolve. If Santiago had given up, he would have become a symbol of failure in his entire community.

“A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”

Ernest Hemingway

Every great nation in the world had once sailed through entirely odd circumstances. Here, the example of Japan is of paramount importance. In 1945, Japan was almost completely destroyed by nuclear attacks. It had suffered from the loss of lives and the destruction of infrastructure and economy. At that time, it had two options; either to give up or to start again from zero. However, with great resolve and determination, Japan started again. Today, Japan has set an example for itself by becoming the third-largest economy in the world.

If Stephen Hawking can unlock the secrets of space and time despite his abnormalities; if a blind girl Saima Saleem can clear the CSS exam and become a bureaucrat; why should a normal person, who is healthy in all aspects, make excuses for remaining submerged in the river. Failures are part of life. Without failure, there would have been no concept of success.

“If you don’t like where you are, move! You are not a tree.”

Jim Rohn

We can conclude the whole discussion with the example of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). When initially he started preaching Islam, he faced multiple hardships. But, he (PBUH) remained adamant in preaching the message of Islam. With his unshakable resolve, he has altered the course of history and baffled the world with his achievements.

In a nutshell, one does (allegorically) fall into a river in life multiple times, but one must not remain submerged in it, but struggle to get out of every problem, trouble, or failure.

About the author


A versatile human being with a passion for reading and writing - always striving for growth, living in the moment but trying to keep pace with the evolving world.


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