Tuesday, March 25, 2014

There's EXperience in my ESSence

"Layer by layer I removed all I thought I was.
All I thought I had to be and in the moment
I was left standing naked and vulnerable
without identities and labels.
I remembered…

— Lenita Vangellis

Like the Ship of Theseus or any band that goes through numerous member changes over time, so too humans constantly change and evolve. Science has shown that our bodies change physically, mentally and emotionally, even if we fail to notice the changes ourselves. So, as we change do we become someone else or are we merely an updated version of our original selves?

“Who are you?
Are you in touch with all of your darkest fantasies?
Have you created a life for yourself where you can experience them?
I have. I am fucking crazy...
But I am free.”

― Lana Del Rey

When I purchased this phone it shipped with the Android Jelly Bean operating system, version 4.2.2, and it looked like this:

Almost a year later, with a few software updates and a body transformation it's almost unrecognizable.
Software? KitKat 4.4.2. As it relates to physical changes in humans, studies have repeatedly shown that all the cells in the human body, with the exception of the neurons in the cerebral cortex, are replaced at different rates. Approximately every 7 - 10 years our bodies not only physically grow, but also change and regenerate itself from the inside.

Whether we believe it or not, humans also develop mentally. Yes, I agree that some don't seem to show much development in this area, but developmental psychology monitors changes in human problem solving, moral understanding, and conceptual understanding; language acquisition; social, personality, and emotional development; and self-concept and identity formation. We learn, and unlearn as we challenge what we have have learned.

“Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled 
to cast aside the weight of facts and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking Into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing 
that the light is everything —
that it is more than the sum of each flawed blossom rising and fading.

And I do.”

— Mary Oliver, The Ponds

All humans are born with the non-verbal language of emotion and it plays a delicate role in how we react to each other. With one event we can transform from cold and callous to warm and empathetic or the adverse may also occur. Caring and warmhearted humans who move to New York City on a mission to save the world, may soon find themselves morphing into calculated and jaded droids. People are prone to change with every new experience. A smile may change a would-be-murderer into a saint, and an act of violence can turn a monk into a monster. The human emotional spectrum is wide and unstable.

“Never forget who you are, for surely the world will not.
Make it your strength, then it can never be your weakness.
Armour yourself in it, and it can never be used to hurt you.”

— George R. R. Martin

Some will argue that we are the same no matter what we go through. Period. However, I would challenge, how can we remain the same when the only thing constant is change? Using the renewal of cells at the rate of every seven years, I would be accurate in saying that in my 365 months of life, I am not simply DeRoux anymore, as I was born, but now I am DeRoux 4.2.1. In fact, if you saw a picture of me when I was a day old, or spoke to me when I was 6 years old, you would not recognize those versions of me as I am today. I could chronicle the changes of my own life from believer to freethinker. On this ladder of change, did I ever cease being me? At the end of the day, regardless of who we think we are; the old ship of Theseus or a spanking new band, we are certainly more than we think and more than our memories. We are the effect of specific causes, we are the reflection of all our experiences.

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