I watched this Ted Talk on philosophy and neuroscience and immediately thought, “Has travel changed who I am at my core?”
Is my true self always changing or am I just the same soul that has different events and experiences happening to me?
Julian Baggini, a British philosopher who got his PhD from College of London, challenges the belief we have one soul identity or true self that never changes. You know the part of you that still exists when you die. That intuitive, eternal part that tells you things in secrets and floats into heaven when your body shits the bed and kicks the can away from you. I always thought my unchanging soul was in there whispering the directions for my mind to follow. I’ve been under the soft belief when we die, our soul goes on living, immutable, untouchable, and unchangeable.
Julian kind of says bullshit to that notion of thinking (thanks for challenging my beliefs Julian). He says the biggest part of who we think we are and who our soul is just an illusion in our minds.
I say the best way to challenge this belief is to travel and grow to find out that the truest part of us feels real and eternal, but actually isn’t.
Travel Truth #1: While traveling (or not traveling), write down who you think your true self is.
Like dude, I am Trevor, I have two brothers. I’m in startups. I love delicious food in foreign countries. I am a bad ass solo-slow traveler (at times). My soul wants me to be the goofy, outgoing, thoughtful, sporty, philosophical, free, unconventional weird guy that wants to live happy, different, and purposeful.
This will always be my true self — this is me.
But wait, why?
Did my soul really want me to be this all along?
Or did I just evolve into this through my traveling experiences, my thoughts and life lessons from pro sports, my loving or hurtful friendships, my good habits, or self-made beliefs?
No, if I’m being honest, I haven’t always been what I wrote down above. I’ve created, jumped in, jumped out, changed, adapted, controlled, and experienced many of these moments that spurred memories or life lessons inside me. Much of this has been due to playing pro sports abroad, traveling, and reflecting on who I will become.
“Well-makers lead the water (wherever they like); fletchers bend the arrow; carpenters bend a log of wood; wise people fashion themselves.” — Dhammapada V
Wise people will fashion themselves. The beauty of that sentence just pops me in the face like a Mike Tyson jab.
“Are you listening?”
Here’s a few questions Julian asked:
If I had a heart transplant, would I be the same person?
Basically, yes. My new heart would pump and pump and I would be happy that it worked.
But what if my brain was replaced?
What if I lost my badass travel memories, my liberating epiphanies while living abroad, those occurrences that helped form those beliefs and reinforced ideas on what I thought my true self was?
Julian Baggini’s Ted Talk got me like “Wait, whoooaa, who am I really?”
“The true self isn’t just there to discover, what you are partly doing is creating your true self…You are the collection of everything that happens to you. — Julian Baggini
Don’t wait to discover yourself.
Has my soul always been separate from my conscious and subconscious body as my mind helps guide, listen, and create my true self or is my real self meshed together with the soul, just remnants of my experiences, layered with the threads of mind that create the genuine self I am today?
To be honest, in the past, I didn’t always live purposefully or happily. I didn’t always control the controllables. I was uber competitive. I obsessed about being the best. I wasn’t always thoughtful with other people. I didn’t accept different people, different religions, different ways of thinking. I was closed off to the unique variety the world had to offer. To the life lessons that existed in changing who we are for the better.
Travel was a huge part of this evolution for me.
It will be for you as well, as long as you leave your comfort zone and extend a hand to the part of your soul (or mind) that whispers, “Wander and learn.”
My mind has changed and morphed due to the thousands of experiences living abroad, at home, and beyond. We can channel and fashion that direction of energy or experience into a flow of change for ourselves. That flow isn’t leaving until your kick your can down the road and take your soul’s energy with it.
Therefore, the REAL YOU is the core or essence of understanding the collection of ourselves, the layers of experiences, traumatic events, positive memories, and present self-awareness.
Our changing faces, our diminishing bodies, our decaying minds, our evolving souls, our life’s experiences are just these ever-changing parts that make up a whole.
The man I am today will be different a year from now — not completely different, but I will change in relation to how much I push my soul, mind, and body to into brighter colors and darker shades of my sliding scale of habits, intelligences, attitudes, beliefs, thoughts, and happiness levels.
The people I meet, the places I travel to, and the experiences I have will all shape and create new parts of this future self, just as much as the past shapes and creates who I am now.
This is my true self — a malleable, mutable dude that changes in ways I can’t always predict.
Traveling, sports, foreigners, friends, family, and life has transformed me to understand our parts are always changing.
And that can be a good thing if we fashion ourselves towards health, happiness, and positivity or to things we know make us happier.
We are all just the sum of our parts and experiences, and we control how we react or create those every day.