Am I the Same Person?

Currently I am 31 years old.

It feels as though I have already lived at least four completely different lives and that I have been different people in my different stages of life. Who I am today is radically different from who I was at 18. When I was a kid I was legalistic about morality. Now I’m sometimes accused of being too open-minded (Yes, the accusation of “moral relativism” has been leveled against me)!

It strikes me sometimes that the person I was at 18 would hate the person that I am today (yet I’m much happier now than I was then, so she can go hang, as they say).

I’ve changed in so many ways. Life and experience have changed me. I’ve grown in my faith and in my understanding of life.

Then I start thinking about how our cells die and refresh themselves over and over again and I wonder what I have even physically in common with the people that I used to be earlier in my life. What is the same? My DNA. Anything else? The soul might be the continuity between who I was and who I am now. Or maybe it’s just my memories.

I bear some resemblance to 12-year-old Ambaa, to 7-year-old Ambaa, to 19-year-old Ambaa, to 26-year-old Ambaa, yet I am such a very different person from any of them. I think my trajectory makes sense, I think I’m going in the right direction (or at least a good direction), but the more I grow and change the less I recognize those previous versions of me.

It really does get at the heart of that basic philosophical question: What makes me me?

Perhaps this is why reincarnation doesn’t seem like a leap to me (you know, that and it being the default belief when I was growing up).

Do you feel like you’re the same person you were twenty years ago? In what ways?

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  • You’re 31 years old? Are you sure? How do you know? Is it you that is 31 years old, or your body is 31 years old. Is it 31 years old, or has it been around the sun from a reference of the sun 31 times?