“What does it mean to be the same thing in different forms?”
My answer? ‘Not a whole lot‘ yet, ‘Everything‘ at the same time.
This idea that we are multifaceted beings, things of depth and dimension; capable of change or consistency, is not unique to us. All things in life work this way; all things grow and change, but keep a little of what they were. After all, our youth, our beginnings, are our bedrock and soil. We build and grow upon our past into something else, hopefully something better. Something that contributes to the world. Humans aren’t made special by this, but it’s incredibly important.
If we think of things in thirds; like we are ice, water and steam, then the idea of our childhoods, adulthoods and elderhoods surely come to mind. With it, so does our past, present and future. These three aspects of ourselves are the Big Three, the triad of who we are; the three individuals made into a whole that will be remembered by the world.
As a woman, I could delve deeper. I could spend time talking about The Three Faces of Eve; the Child, the Wife and the Seductress. There is this idea that women fall into one of these three categories: the spritely, innocent, child-like girl; the wise, calm, gentle home-maker; the sexually liberated, experienced, independent woman. Any well-crafted character, any human, will be parts of all three. Then there are the Hecate sisters. Without getting into the history of the triple-goddess, she represents the Maiden, the Matron and the Crone; Waxing, Full, and Waning. They too speak of these three aspects of womanhood, mixing the idea of the Three Faces of Eve into only slightly more complex traits.
We are all of these things eventually, but can we be all at once? Can we change from one to another with relative freedom?
No, we may be made up of water, but we aren’t as easy to change. The Elder and Crone may keep their childish curiosity or the Maidens love-ripe heart, but she will never be able to free herself of the burden of her losses and curated wisdom. That time, that innocence, that person, is untouchable and unobtainable. Just as I can’t reach into the future to my elder-self full of knowing, I also can’t recapture the worry-free, oblivious girl of my youth.
Water flows freely into one form of matter into the next and can transform back again. We aren’t so malleable. We need to pay damn close attention to the people we turn ourselves into, because part of that will always be with us. If we’re like ice, we need to be careful not to crack. If we’re steam, we must remember not to lose ourselves. If I am water, I have to steady myself onto the path I want, not just the one of least resistance.
We are not three definite things at once. Instead, we are an amalgam of everything we experience at every moment and eventually that will lead us into a form of ourselves that our past selves wouldn’t recognize; there is no going back. I can only make who I will be into someone better than myself and my past.
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