Know thyself

Know thyself is an often cited quote. It was invented by the ancient Greeks, who carved it into the temple of Deplhi. Many books have been written about why the Greeks were so wise. It is speculated that it was because of the climate. Another, perhaps more convincing, theory is that it might be because of the fact that the elite had housewives and slaves which allowed them to spend their time to think and reflect.

I never understood how one acquires self-knowledge. Of course, there are the simple things. Like the fact that I need at least eight hours of sleep each night, whereas someone else might only need four.

But then there is the fact that I never sleep well after a journey. Everytime I drift away, I immediately wake up again. This continues throughout the night. It is only in the early hours of the morning that I manage to fall asleep. But it hasn’t always been like this. When I used to go on business trips, I always slept fine the first night but then hardly slept at all during the second one. What does this tell me about who I am?

My mother loved the comfort of her own home. My father, on the other hand, was always planning new adventures. If they had known themselves better, they might have been much happier. When they were old, however, they always stayed at home. Then my mother started asking him if they would go on holiday again, to which my father replied: it’s holiday everyday at our home. So who were they really?

These simple examples show how difficult it is to know yourself, given the fact that you change.

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