It’s funny what pops into your mind on a drive home. I began to think about what makes me ME. What set it off was thinking about an episode of Doctor Who. Heaven Sent (2015) In this episode regarded by many fans as one of the best of Capidi’s run the Doctor finds himself in a strange castle, works out how to escape but is killed before he is able to. Luckily he is able to survive longer to reset the teleportation device that brought him there before dying thus allowing another copy of himself to arrive in the castle and have to start again eventually (after billions of years) breaking down a wall and escaping. One of the things that was discussed on the Gallifrey Base forum following this episode was the question of the Doctor’s age (A subject that has been debated over many years) Did this now mean the Doctor was now billions of years old or was the Doctor that finally escaped just a couple of days older then he was in the previous episode having been reset by the transporter.
The whole thing raises the question of whether this is really still the Doctor, the original or just a copy with all the memories of the original that first died in the castle. And what about all the times before hand when the Doctor has used teleporters. Is the person that comes out the other end the ‘same’ person that went in? What about all those Starfleet officers from Star Trek. Did the original Captain Kirk simply disappear into nothing and get replaced by an exact copy. One of the Bernice Summerfield novels (a Doctor Who spin off) Down deals with this issue having one character scared of any kind of transport believe it will be the end of the real her.
So all this was going on in my head leading me off on other thoughts. One of the questions I’ve seen many times on the Empty Closets forum is how do I know if I’m trans? With one answer being if you could change into your ideal body of the opposites sex would you do it? My answer has most of the time been yes I would. But then I have issues with my body anyway so why wouldn’t I jump at the chance to be placed into another body if it’s how I would ideally see myself as female. For the record we are probably talking Renée Felice Smith or Caity Lotz or Michelle Hendley. If this magical device was around of course I’d use it.
But the point that sticks in my mind when imagining this scenario is that if it was somehow possible to change my body or be placed into a body that was female then would it not also be possible to be place in the ideal male body. And again yes given the choice I would swop bodies for one that looked like Stephen Amell or Tom Ellis.
And the point that crossed my mind was if I was able to do any of this would I still be ME. Because I am made up of my experiences and act accordingly. If I suddenly was more confident in my looks would my attitude change? Would I do things I normal wouldn’t? Is what makes me who I am simply my thoughts, my soul or is also connected to the body I inhabit?
Let’s look at the scenario of this girl I like. One of the things holding me back is my insecurity about my looks. Would see go for someone like me. Am I too old looking? Not hunky enough? Wrong colour hair? Fairly shallow stuff but its true many people go for people they find attractive. (I know it’s not always about looks) If I looked like Tom Ellis would I feel more confident at asking her out and also would I actually be more successful in this new body? And if I looked like Caity Lotz would I have less chance then I do now being the same sex. Would I even bother trying or just end up being a ‘girl’ friend hanging around with her. Already we can see that changing bodies would make me act differently than the Me sitting here right now.
Another scenario that has always kicked around in my head is what would it be like if I suddenly found myself leaping back into my body of when I was say fourteen, back at school but with all the memories I had built up over the years? Would I change how I did things back then? Of course I bloody would. Johnny Hates Jazz had a song called Turn Back the Clock. While it sums up about how I feel about getting older the lines about not wanting to change a single day can go right out the window. I probably had even less confidence as a teenager then I do now. If I knew what I know now of course I would use it to my advantage. I could retry to do all those things I never did and regret missing out on. I could change my career path, join the police force like I wanted to.
But then once again that would change the person I am now. I have been shaped by the people and events of my life. Would I really make changes to my life if it meant that I never met some of the people that had meant so much to me over the years? Sure some of those people have brought me heartache and taken me to the darkest times in my life but there are many memories there. Precious ones. And which changes would I make? Ones that made me more popular with girls, a better career. Or maybe I would have started transitioning at an early age. Now that would be a life changing direction.
Either way none of those people, for better or worse, would be the same person that is sitting here now in a café typing out these words. I am unique just like everyone else in the world. The Doctor once said, “A man is the sum of his memories.” I guess that’s what makes me, ME.