OLD SOUL: Black, Grey, Or White?

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By Maria Rodriguez

Aristotle’s “De Anima” (On the Soul) compares the mind to a blank slate. Then in a newer emphasis on the “tabula rasa,” English philosopher John Locke argued in his work  “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding” that we are brought into this world with a “blank-slated” mind, with it resembling a “white paper, void of all characters.” Locke argued on the limitations of priori knowledge (innate knowledge) and the endless horizon of posteriori knowledge (knowledge we gain from experience). 

I believe this concept to be only partially true. Being made in God’s image and likeness, we are born with values instilled in us whether we like it or not. “Even a criminal wants what’s best for his own child” —I heard this from someone when I was little. We always have that little voice warning and reminding us of what’s right and what’s wrong.  

Instead of a clean white slate, I believe that our newly-born minds are more akin to textured, slightly stained, slates. And no matter how much knowledge we are born with is argued, I believe that we are given as much to know as we need to (I present to you —- the gift of a conscience).

Looking back on my first birthday, I was celebrated for living as the human being I truly was (crying, crawling, walking, babbling). During those years, I was my raw self. On my 4th year, my soul became a fusion of myself and the influence of my well-curated environment. On my 6th year, it seemed my character has been (and still is) in the process of evolving for the greater good, in an effort to improve myself with grace and maturity, as well as making mistakes like a human should. Now in my teenage years (which I once in a while struggle to accept), I still try to maintain my childlikeness as I see more of the world (good and bad), mixed with the confusion of embodying someone else in a fatal attempt to become the missing puzzle piece of the social scene and sometimes, somebody else’s life. 

Then of course, in the somewhat dreadful future, my mind would one day wrestle with the physical and mental changes that will occur during my transition from an adolescent to an adult. I am told that one tends to lose himself, who he really is, what makes one special, as he dives into the social pool of worries and pressures —- ONLY to realize what was lost, later in life. 

After living quite a life for a while, we are left to ponder on which aspects of the world we must shut out and detest. We wonder whether we truly want to let the world influence us, or to influence the world… I personally am still going through the journey of pondering. I always wonder how much of the world I should let in and shut out, driven by the fear of losing my child-likeness to the world; knowing rationally that fear isn’t the best anchor. As we go through deadlines, submissions, assignments, and even more deadlines, we tend to miss the chance to stop and smell the roses.

We only have one life down here, so we must enjoy its gaieties while we can as we learn and unlearn the lessons life teaches us.