If you generally liked your childhood and can remember yourself in the past as if it were yesterday, you’re a Continuer. But if you’ve moved on from who you were and actively seek out new identities, you’re a Divider. That’s what Joshua Rothman wrote about in the Annals of Inquiry of The New Yorker October 10, 2022: Are you the same person you used to be?
Let me think. Nursing a toothache, I think I’m the same person I was as the skinned-knee 12-year-old who rode a bike around all summer in the Japanese Alps, only with different bits that ache and a few more of them. The biggest ache I had was about the Japanese borders being closed to foreigners, including quislings like me who gave up their single-Japanese-citizenship-only by working abroad and living with foreign families. But as of October 11th, I can go back. I don’t know when yet but it seems like such a big existential deal to have the possibility to continue the life of that skinned-knee twelve-year old. All it'll take is an easy plane ride to Haneda, now 15 hours instead of 13 because of Russian airspace restrictions, and then a smooth-ass ride in the Nagano Joetsu Shinkansen because it's the actual bullet train and not the Sony Pictures one with Brad Pitt in it.
I’m a Continuer, I think, but only of the kind studied by the psychologists at the University of Otago’s Dunedin School of Medicine whose longitudinal scholarship compared human life to storm systems shaped by other storm systems. I like the storm system view of life because it sounds more representative than the popular and traditional view of human life as a growing tree. I didn’t know it then but my skinned knee from skidding on the volcanic gravel in a storm was a taster for the London toothache and the many other showers and storms yet to come. And now, having been shaped and aged by these storms on my ever-shortening runway, I wonder if am, actually going to continue being a Continuer. Or, if I’ve been transformed into a Divider by storm systems like the pandemic. I’ll test that theory in the coming months in Japan. And because it’s only fair, I’ll test Japan, too – Did the pandemic change Japan? – and then I’ll let you know the outcome, especially if I run into Brad Pitt.
Wishing both Continuers and Dividers a great weekend!