Self Amidst Flux

RiverWinding

“No man ever steps in the same river twice,

for it’s not the same river

and he’s not the same man.”

-Heraclitus

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Whether you believe that there is an overarching “self” or not, you must be willing to acknowledge that you are continuously changing.

You hardly resemble the fetus that you once were, nestled in your mother’s warm body. Suppose an advanced Womb with a View existed back in your fetal days, and your parents had a clear image of you captured. Would you now be able to pick out that image among others? Beyond just images and down to a micro level, your body consists of fluctuating cocktails of chemicals that are capable of affecting your mood from moment to moment. Molecule for molecule, the entirety of your body is being slowly replaced several times over.

Cognitively, there was a time when you didn’t know this language. For months, as a baby, you sloppily yet steadily babbled simple sounds — sounds with no meaning yet attached to them. Yet now, here you are, with a grasp of the English language that is sophisticated enough to effortlessly gather meaning from these lines of symbols. In fact, now, it seems virtually unfathomable to go throughout your day without words. The most intimate parts of you and your thoughts are so steeped in language that it would be hard to imagine forming a single thought, let alone an entire identity, without it.

As long as you are living, you are changing. Every day, you take in an innumerable amount of information, tugging you this way and that, subtlety and drastically transforming you. Even the most fundamental parts of you — your values, beliefs and judgments have shuffled and shifted with experience. Lessons are learned and patterns slowly diverge.

Amidst all this flux, where is “the Self” or the tangible thing that makes you, distinctly you? Is there some sort of common thread that is somehow woven throughout your being from the beginning of your consciousness to the end?

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