The Ship of Theseus and Self-Discovery
According to the legend, Theseus, the mythical Greek founder, and king of Athens, rescued a bunch of children from King Minos (a real bad guy) after defeating the minotaur (another big bad guy) and then fled on a ship going to Delos. Each year, the Athenians celebrate this story by taking the ship on a pilgrimage to Delos to honor this vessel.
Plutarch, the ancient philosopher, was the first to ponder the essence of that ship. You see, in order to keep that ship seaworthy for centuries, regular maintenance must occur. Old rotting pieces of wood are removed and replaced by new pieces in exacting detail. With modern technology, we can build many different types of ships; ships that are faster, stronger, lighter, and larger. But they don’t use modern technology to improve the Ship of Theseus, they duplicate each piece as is, to honor his memory.
The question is, after several centuries of maintenance, if each individual part of the Ship of Theseus has been replaced one at a time, is this still the same ship? How many pieces of the ship can be replaced before it is considered a new ship? Imagine if every piece has been replaced except one last original boat cleat, is it still the same ship? Or maybe, it’s a better version of itself or perhaps just a newer version of itself.
Now, let’s take a closer look inward. Most of cells in our body are regenerated and replaced every seven to ten years. Skin cells are constantly regenerating, while your bones take a little longer. You have to think of this as your body doing regular maintenance upon itself. Trying to flush out the unhealthy and replace it with something new.
Imagine going back in time and meeting the old you; 10, 20, 30 years ago. Now imagine going forward in time and meeting the future you; 10, 20, 30 years from now. Compare that old you to the future you. Are you the same person? Of course you are, but in many ways, maybe not. Hopefully we now have more knowledge, experience, gratitude, and purpose. But maybe we also have more anxiety, depression, and regret.
The difference between us and the Ship of Theseus is that we have the power to not only maintain, but to improve our vessel. Is it time to take a closer look at ourselves? Are we evolving or dissolving? Are we thriving or just surviving? Are we growing and glowing or are we just maintaining and complaining?
We have a responsibility to honor our vessel. We need to dedicate at least some of our time to improve our physical self with nutrition and exercise. We must keep our minds sharp by reading, learning, and through the act of creation. We should search for real happiness by sharing our talents and gifts with others and push them to become better versions of themselves too. None of us will be around centuries from now but if we strive to stay shipshape, we’ll enjoy our journey just a little bit more.
As seen in Stroll, Hawthorn Woods CC Magazine. Follow “Bacon Bits with Master Happiness” on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Amazon Music, Audible, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.
Marty Jalove of Master Happiness is a Business Consultant, Corporate Coach, and Company Strategist that helps small businesses, teams, and individuals find focus, feel fulfilled, and have fun. Master Happiness stresses the importance of realistic goal setting, empowerment, and accountability.
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