Philosophy Week, Post 1

By | Monday, December 14, 2020 2 comments
Who am I?
This week, I'm going to try to do something different. Rather than talk about actual comics or the comics industry or any of the usual topics I tend to cover, I'm going to go a bit afield and talk a bit about some of the philosophical tenets I hold. Not necessarily as they relate to comics, just the broad ideas that I just generally follow in life. Chalk it up to my being unusually reflective after the shitshow that's been 2020.

"Who am I?" is one of the most fundamental questions of philosophy. Naturally, there are any number of answers to this depending on your philosophical bent, but a reasonable answer might be: the sum total of my experiences. What makes a person unique is that no one else has done exactly the same things they've done in exactly the same way with exactly the same results. Who I am includes: getting laughed at on the first day of first grade for pulling my pants down around my ankles to pee, breaking my wrist on Thanksgiving when I was 10, trying out for the eighth grade basketball team and being one of only two people to not make the cut, having one of my assigned college roommates in freshman year never show up and another drop out after the first quarter leaving my one remaining roommate and I with a dorm room designed for four people... I could go on and on with everything I've seen, everything I've done, everything I've had done to me. All of that makes up who I am today.

But there's something of a paradox here. Even though I've got all those experiences to make up who I am, they don't define me.

Everything in my past is just that: my past. I can't change any of it. I can't re-experience any of it. It's over. Done. It's no longer relevant. As has been said before, time travel is possible, but only in one direction.

But how can it not be relevant if those same experiences make up who I am? How can that not matter if those experiences shape the person I am today?

That's because I am not just the sum total of my experiences. It's what I choose to do with those experiences, what I choose to take from them make me who I am right now. I have nearly half a century of life experiences now, and I act based on them. And it's those actions that really define me today. From what clothes I choose to put on first thing in the morning to what I tell my boss when he asks me how any given project is going to whether I choose to work out or not to what I choose to read/watch/listen to. Those decisions are informed by my past but they're still new decisions. And in the moment I act on those decisions, that is who I am.

We obviously don't all start at the same point in life, and we certainly don't all wake up each morning with things being completely reset. But every time you get up, you get to choose how to act and react to the day, whatever that looks like. I'm not talking about trying to maintain a positive attitude or anything saccharinely simplisitic like that; sometimes shit just pisses you off. But whatever you wake up with, that's what you've got going forward. Take what you've got here and now, and move on from there. Doesn't matter what you did yesterday or last week or last year. Wherever you are right now, that's your current starting point. You can try to go forward, or not, and whatever progress you make (or don't) sets your starting point for tomorrow, a starting point that you can't move retroactively.

Everything in my life up to this point has shaped me. But who I am depends on what I choose to do right now.
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Robb said...

Nicely done. Looking forward to the rest of the week.

Matt K said...

Oh, I see. Another of those "two people who had 'the quad' dorm room all to themselves!" My residence hall had one of those deals also. I know this scam! :-D