Becoming: The Inevitable Changing Self

Edited and republished from Jan. 2013

The “enduring self”. Some say it is material concerns only which make up the “self”. Other’s say there is more–a mind and a soul–that continues once our bodies are gone.

On the material side of the question is an interesting phenomenon–we change constantly—physically—and so we are different at every moment in our lives. Our brains are, literally, changed from moment to moment. Who or what we were as children is different from who we are in adulthood. We all recognize that we think differently now than we did at some point in the past and, so, change of some sort has taken place. We are at once different and, possibly, spiritually forever the same. 

“I look at my work in quiet fascination and, yes, sometimes “desperation”…

This makes me think about the changing actuality of my art, which also goes back to my interest in how ideas develop (see The Process Of Originality). I look at what I’m doing right now and think about how I saw/painted before. I look at my work in quiet fascination (and, yes, sometimes “desperation“) and wonder where I am in development today—have I attained the level of professionalism I desire.

It is a gradual thing—these changes–but change happens and one day I’m comparing present to past, attending my own, private retrospective.”

Sometimes my distant work seems so amateurish and I wonder why I didn’t see better back then. I don’t remember seeing differently. I was seeing the best I could at the time, the same as I do now. This is interesting—that I don’t perceive the change in the process. 

This changing  seems such the natural order of things, and yet I find it miraculous. And it’s encouraging to realize that the brain molds itself anew, moment by moment, because it reinforces the notion that I am becoming something new every time I work, that I am becoming better. It motivates me to stay the course–to persevere– and to be patient with myself.

MT McClanahan

An artist and perpetual thinker, MT McClanahan finds inspiration through connecting ideas across a broad range of topics. He especially enjoys philosophy and how art and life interconnect. He is the founder of TPT and his paintings can be seen at

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7 Responses

  1. Oh, this is wonderful Marcus! One of the things you did not mention is that the brain/self also grows more mature in how it looks back on art made earlier. Some certain things (certainly not all) of the old works I drag out of the archives really pleasantly surprise me…not only are they pertinent to the self that has stayed put through years of change, but they also document well what was true for that self when I painted it.

    But what makes us get up in the morning? It’s a brand new day, that’s what! And our adventure is ahead!

    • Brilliant Susan! I had to read yours several times before the meaning became clear to my little (but changing) brain! What is maturity anyway? Experience! That’s why “doing” is so important. If thinking, alone, made one smart I would be a genius 100 times over by now!

      But back to your point–how is it that something we did years ago can impress us more, now, than before? What an interesting thought.

      Maybe time removed makes us less critical. Which brings up a scary point–can we blind ourselves, in the moment, by over evaluation? Which is why I asked, “what is maturity?” Maybe I’m really asking, “is it maturity, or something else, like a lessened need to have it be ‘right’, that allows us to see clearer?”

      And I should print out your last and tape it to my bathroom mirror to see every morning!

  2. testing sign in with url

    Left Miami after 60 years to Greensboro NC. It is such a positive difference. I have not been a church goer for many decades and father and I attend one here now. I do have BA and MA religious studies. I think these people have plans for me I don’t know.That would be a delight. It will be wonderful to return to my Presbyterian roots. Being clean and sober 13+ years has changed things so much for the better.

    • As having familial experience with it I can imagine, and know for a fact, that it changes things for you and everyone around you. Talk about a changing self! Now you can find purpose.

  3. Hesitant to subscribe. What is this FeedBurner thing? My tech says be leary of things.

    • Feedburner is a “Feed” subscription service offered by Google. Simply put, it is the platform I use to show readers my feeds.

      It’s pretty much the same as an RSS (Rich Site Summary) feed, which you can choose to use instead of Feedburner; just click links in footer–“Atom Entries” or “Atom Comments”, and add feed url’s directly to your preferred News Reader.

      Feedburner gives me–the site administrator–statistical information, like the number of people subscribing to my feed. Plus it’s more aesthetically pleasing I think. Relevant to you, however you receive feeds, whether by Feedburner or not, it is for convenience.

      When you click on either of the links in the footer (“Feedburner Entries” or “Feedburner Comments”) it will show you the feeds, plus, an option to subscribe via various Web Based News Readers. You can alternatively add feed url’s directly to your preferred News Reader yourself.

      Subscribing by Email, if you choose this option also, or alone, means you will receive an email each time a new article is posted, just like you receive notification of a new comment from a post you commented on, if you selected that option below your comment.

      Probably more info than you wanted but trying to be as clear as possible. Email me if you have any concerns. Smart to be wary of anything. But I am sure your tech knows about Feedburner. If he doesn’t I might look for another tech.

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