To be or not to be me?

The question floats up in my consciousness as I bite into the sandwich. Cucumber’s refreshing scent fills my nostrils and I shoo it away. I continue my Wikipedia journey of zeppelins and optics and the biology of the eye, the breadcrumb trail fading with each sequential click. Intrigued, I hum as I finish reading an entry about a photographer who captured the motion of a horse.

The sandwich gone, I close the page, the question returns.

I sigh lazily and stand up from my chair. I freeze the time, take the film out of the projector and inspect it in the light. The fabric of my timespace, the rich multi-dimensional capture of all things me. An autobiography, a faint copy of which is stored in my brain. The insta-filtered, interpreted and distorted version of it. This, however, is the untouched, high-fidelity source. This is me. Or so the film would suggest.

Muybridge’s horse greets me, but can it be trusted? Frame after frame, glued together with time, it shows me airborne in trot. It suggests that all of this is one motion. That it has led to what I am now and what I will be next. I shake my head.

I’m not the person in the frame from ten years ago — I can barely recognise the one from last week. We look similar, there is no denying that, but turn the dark light on and look at the variations in the soul spectrum. No. We are looking at a billion people. And the man coming after me would be a fool to say differently.

To be or not to be me. The question insists.

“I could be someone else,” I tell it, not averting my eyes from the film. “If you would show me the way out of causality, I could… Aren’t these million frames anything but stones tumbling downhill, their trajectories predefined?”

I put the roll back and flip the switch. The projector resumes its task as I walk over to the closet.

“And what do I do with these?” I ask to the question as I pull the doors open.

Burn them, it tells me.

“Aren’t they supposed to remind me of the people I’ve been?”

Burn them all, it says. It’s up to you, of course. But who do you want to be?

I nod and reach for the matches in the pocket of the man from the past. He liked to smoke. I light one and throw it into the closet. The dried bones hungrily swallow the fire with a merry crackling. I close the doors.

Which will it be? The question doesn’t let go.

“I could be someone else,” I tell it, “if only I knew who I am now.”

That’s simple, it says. You are me.