Persistence of identity

On a walk around a large wooded National Trust garden, we met a couple we knew who were going the other way round. Some time later, we passed them again and I remarked that, a little while earlier, we had met a couple who were just like them, only younger. Or had we? It made me think . . .

I passed a person in the street I thought I’d seen before –
An hour or so ago, it was, maybe a little more;
But that one had been younger! Strip the problem to the core:
Identity – does it persist? And how can I be sure?

The answer is, I can’t be sure. But here is the solution
(It’s “survival of the fittest” – put it down to evolution):
We’ve learned to make such judgements when we haven’t all the facts
To stop us being gobbled up in animal attacks.

Our too-pedantic ancestors who needed all the answers
Got eaten, while their brothers kept their distance, took no chances
And made assumptions like: “That creature’s one to keep an eye on –
I can’t be sure, of course but, well, it looks just like a lion . . .”

I thought about this as I walked (a multi-tasking feat!),
When something made me turn around and look back down the street.
The person also turned. He said, “I passed a fellow who
Was just like you a while ago, but he was younger, too!

[Image: (Stephen Wright’s street photography)]
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