There is no tomorrow.
There is only a planet turning on its axis, and a creature given to optimistic fancies.
When life gives you lemons, you’re supposed to make lemonade.
The older I get, the more I realize that I don’t actually get any older. I don’t actually become any more different. I don’t actually change. Because you can’t change… Not really, at least.
Back in high school, I remember a teacher asking once, “if the Titanic was replaced, plank by plank each year, until every plank on that ship was a new part and nothing of the original remained, would it still be the Titanic?”
Everyone answered, “yes”. We were pretty sure of it.
Then, he went on to ask, “if I took all the original planks and built another ship, exactly the same as before, would this ‘new’ ship be the Titanic, or the old one, in which all the planks had been replaced?”
We were stumped. Speechless.
Man! That is some deep food for thought! I remember thinking.
And it is, isn’t it?
People always say things like, “I’m not who I was yesterday”, and that’s fine, I get it, really, I do. Neither am I, or at least, it doesn’t feel that way. I’m not the same person as I was when I was 6, because my body is continuously changing. I’ve grown up, all the cells within me have died and been replaced and they’re still dying and still being replaced.
I am me, but I am not the me of yesterday, or of 5 years ago, and the me of 20 wouldn’t be the same me of 19.
Just like the Titanic, I am no longer the original, and so… How do I answer that question? How do I say which is the real one, when both ships are clearly, the Titanic?
Eckhert Tolle once succinctly said, “it’s always Now”.
And after 2 years, I finally have an answer to that question posed by my high school teacher, and if he were to ask me that again, I’ll say, “neither” because the truth is simple. Neither of them are the original. The Titanic rebuilt entirely from its “original” planks, wouldn’t be the original Titanic simply because it would be an aging, rebuilt version of it. And the Titanic replaced plank by plank isn’t the original either, because it’s been replaced, plank by plank. The thing about these kinds of thoughts is that they’re so simplistic in theory, yet so complicated to word. How do you explain a feeling, an understanding, a thought coherently in a way that others might understand?
There’s this idea that everything is the same, yet nothing really is. We think we’re the same person because we have these memories of our pasts, but the truth is that memories fade. And once they’ve faded, that means that the person we used to be is gone, right? Forever lost?
It’s a subtle difference, but the idea is that everything is the same, but nothing is the same. All at once.
The truth is that Life is complicated. As Antonio Porchia wrote in Voces, “Because they know the name of what I am looking for, they think they know what I am looking for!”
But the grand question isn’t “what am I looking for” anymore. It’s who, and where and how and why and what is the point, exactly? The me of yesterday seeks to find meaning. The me of today thinks I’ll find it tomorrow. The me of tomorrow will probably wonder what the meaning is, but the truth is that… After all these thoughts, after all the debates and philosophy classes and papers written and answers memorized, none of it will ever matter. None of it will ever be the same. Because yesterdays and tomorrows are abstract ideas of loss and there is only Now.