Day 7.

 “Because words have power, and they are the translation of our thought processes. Words can heal, they can touch, they can affect. They can encourage, just like how simply they can destroy, discourage, and dishearten.”

Five years ago, someone wrote these lines in a series of letters entrusted to me. When the short-lived reality underlying these words fell apart, I threw the letters away, in balls of fire and bellows of smoke. But being the serial hoarder, I kept one, and I put it amongst the many things that have become the precious fragments of my past. The dainty handwriting, the golden envelope, and the indelible scent of one’s first relationship laid in the box of memories. It has remained there with all its naivety, free from any hint of regret, nor any speck of frustration. On those nights when sleep was difficult, I would plow through the box of fragments. Each time, the letter was a heartfelt reminder of who I am not, but more importantly, who I could be.

It is often quoted that we are defined by our choices, our actions, or our thoughts. But who exactly does the defining? Who am I defined by? It is a silly question to ask, but its answer is just as difficult to find. One school of thought is that everything depends on the context. In other words, one’s identity can only be defined by society, in relation with one another. In solitude, one’s existence is insubstantial. Yet in holding this perspective, we are discounting the inner world – the depths of our thoughts that elude common observation. This leads us to the other extreme, in which what we think of ourselves is all that matters. Perception is reality, and since the only perception that we are entitled to is our own, our definition of self is imperative. Nevertheless, we don’t really have to take sides; it’s a question that bothers us least of the time.

In any case, we use words mostly when it comes to defining things, places, and people. There are gestures, actions, music, and art which transcend verbal description, but they too are inevitably translated into ideas, which in turn are unwritten words in the mind. We could explore the entire debate on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis – language determines thought, but that is unnecessary. Simply put, our ideas are mostly influenced or limited by words. Through these letters put together into thoughts, we conceive the world and ourselves. So we must choose wisely in attempting to understand our reality:

“My life could be in turmoil, or it’s just an exciting adventure.”

“I am an optimistic realist, rather than an idealistic pessimist.”

“There can be no true despair without hope [1]; there can be no true hope without despair.”

It is a matter of choice. Its pre-requisite is free-will, which is apparent but possibly illusory. This calls for another grand debate – one that I will avoid as well. On some assumptions, I am choosing to re-organize my life, because I need more emotional stability, as much as discipline and focus, to progress – in both the moral sense and in realizing aspirations. Moreover, mental fortitude is a worthy pursuit, endless it may be.

Roodelia started out two years ago as a refuge from all the life-changing decisions I had to make. Writing calms me down, despite my lack of aptitude for it. I write differently now; I am no longer the boy who would wallow in his own despair. I have willed myself to be less negative as I used to be, and the very desire for optimism is optimism itself. Therefore, Roodelia should now be re-defined, before it slips into obsolescence. As a guideline and not a restriction, it will be a place for expression of my passion for food and places and occasional (amateur) commentary on things I care about. I had disliked advice and encouraging words, but I will no longer shun from writing positively, to touch and affect, because while it may seem superfluous to some, it could be necessary to others. Food makes people happy anyway. Writing about food is back for good!

[1] Bane, from The Dark Knight Rises.


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