An Eclectic Human
A newsletter about design, community, and being a human

1.07 The high school boy who bore my name

(We’ll take a break next week for American Thanksgiving and return on 4 December.)

About music, Matt wrote

The music that still gives me the chills is from my family’s favorite video game, Chrono Trigger. Out of context it can sound overly dramatic, but it doesn’t feel cheesy while you’re playing the game. In Chrono Trigger each character has his or her own theme. My favorite themes are those of Magus, a quiet magical boy turned dark wizard who eventually joins your team if you choose not to kill him, and Glenn, an unassuming knight in training whom Magus turns into a frog-human after killing Glenn’s mentor. Glenn’s pure heroism juxtaposed with Magus’s malevolent mysticism make for an engaging side story that creates the thrill in their musical themes.

I’d add that one of my favorite video game remixes also comes from Chrono Trigger. It’s called “Blue Skies Over Guardia”, which takes the “Guardia’s Millennial Fair” theme and puts it in 78.

• • •

Holden shared something this week that got me thinking. Throwing Away the Past by Gary Rogers:

It feels cold and wrong to admit that the real link between my grandmother and me is memory. The chair was just a trigger for that memory. The chair only had value in the utility it provides and the memories it evokes. Our minds are all we should need to maintain our memories. Memories that fade are a good thing. We lie to ourselves that we will never forget. We get angry at ourselves when we do.

I seem to have little trouble getting rid of objects whose sole value is having belonged to some ancestor, or having been a gift from an old friend, or being otherwise emblematic of a phase of life long gone. I’ve alternately thought of myself as a great budding minimalist and a horrible unfeeling monster for this tendency. But I like how Rogers says it. The memory is the important thing; the object merely evokes the memory, and if memory were supposed to be infallible then we would have evolved that way by now. It’s okay to let go of the past, to forget, to move on.

CGP Grey wrote something along similar lines, I Have Died Many Times:

Like the Ship of Theseus your mind replaces itself one small part at a time. Memories fade, memories exaggerate, the new pushes out the old. It happens slowly, but it happens, until your mind is an new inhabitant of an old skull.

It’s useful to think of Steven Nay from 10 years ago as the same person as exists today, in some sense. But for all practical purposes, that person is long gone, and I am very different from the high school boy who bore my name.

When I was about 21 I started going by Steve. Most of the people who met me after that or who are still very close to me call me Steve, but most people who only knew my younger self still call me Steven. It’s a bit of tangible evidence to me that I have changed, that my past self is dead, and that it’s okay. I hope I’ve kept the best things and built on them.

• • •

What things do you find useful to hold on to? What things are you glad you got rid of?

—Steve

Later article
1.08 Empathy