I read a nice intro to Epictetus on DailyStoic today. Epictetus was a Greek philosopher who died in 135 AD, at the ripe age of 85. He was born a slave, but eventually became a teacher whose words are still studied today, almost 2,000 years later. This single quote alone holds great truths that we would do well to remember today. I picked it to help me consider exactly who, or what, we are.
I'm not just my body. If I lose my arm from the elbow, I’m still me, no less a human- just slightly modified. If I looked at that dismembered limb, I would not think that it was sad or angry to be torn away from the rest of me. I wouldn’t think it had emotions or thoughts on the state of things, or of anything else, for that matter. Perhaps that is not a rightful assumption, but it is a common enough belief today.
I’m not just my body and my mind. If I take my body, my thoughts and feelings and go live alone on a mountain somewhere, I could live fairly well. I might connect deeply with my surroundings and feel attached to them, but I would be doing so as a single member of my species. What if, instead, I took that same body, thoughts and feelings and lived in a community of other people? What if I became dependent upon those relationships: giving and taking, existing and responding to the group dynamics of a common species? Would I be the same person? Would I even be the same person regardless of the community of people I placed myself in? I doubt it. I’d still be me, just slightly (or perhaps greatly) modified.
We are body, mind and spirit. The concrete body. The mind that powers our personalities and thoughts. The spirit that connects us to other humans.
Three separate facets of the complex jewels that are us.
I discussed this 3-part self in my guided journal for educators, Dear Teachers. I am also working on its implications for those living with type 1 diabetes in my NEW book, Dear Warriors, available later this year. Know a T1D with art talents? Please click and share the Dear Warriors link for details on my interest for illustrations by T1Ds!