“One day I ate an apple,
It was really nice.
I ate every single bit
I nearly ate it twice.”
The masterpiece of my six-year-old self. The first to finish writing a poem in the class, I was given the honour of typing it up and printing it out on the computer. I was immensely proud of my poem, despite quizzical looks from Ms. Osborne and ridicule from friends who couldn’t understand the...complexity of my poem. I brought it home and it was hung up on our notice board and left there for seven years.
Almost every person who entered our kitchen asked about the poem and I replied, “It’s my poem, I wrote it when I was in Year Two” and gradually my feelings about the poem changed. From bursting with pride to saying that the nonsensical twist was just my age and forgetting why it was so important to me.
Is my six-year-old self the same as my fifteen-year-old self? Am I the same person?
Technically yes. I have the same body, the same genes and the same family. I live in the same house, I go to the same school and my family loves me the same. But I think differently, I act differently and I have different opinions. I can never think like my six-year-old self again and, when I’m older, I probably won’t think like my fifteen-year-old self either. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that, although I have the same body, altogether I am a different person.
“ποταμοῖσι τοῖσιν αὐτοῖσιν ἐμϐαίνουσιν, ἕτερα καὶ ἕτερα ὕδατα ἐπιρρεῖ.”
Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers.
Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 535 – c. 475 BCE), a Greek philosopher, reached a similar conclusion and, although most of his work has been lost, small fragments have been quoted in other philosophers’ work. Πάντα ῥεῖ, (Panta rhei) – everything flows.
The child that I was no longer exists, I am not the same person that I was yesterday, but my childhood memories contribute to my current self psychologically. “Everything flows” means simply that everything changes; I can never go back to my old self because it has disappeared, flowed into the ocean of my memories and it is irretrievable. The water around me is always changing, like my experiences and the new water slightly alters my personality.
I would love to be six again. I would love to be proud of my little poem in the same way that I was when I wrote it, but now I can only be proud of my six-year-old self. And in the same way I hope that my older self will be proud of what my fifteen-year-old self did.