Stubborn.

Dearest Reader,

Stubbornness. What does that mean to you? To most, it is the inability to give in or to change one’s mind about something. Well, I, Dewitt Valentino, am stubborn, but not in the way that you think. I am stubborn in that I refuse to stop learning and improving. I choose to choose, and if it is a mistake then I learn from it – and I think this is a brilliant kind of stubbornness.

To elaborate, each and every year I intrinsically look into my personality. I identify what has been of benefit, what has been of detriment and what needs improving. Based on this, I – sometimes – completely re-refine my personality. I break down what has caused me pain and transmogrify it into something that I believe will be more efficient and effective. People often tell me this way of change is an example of being driven. Well, yes, it is, but then again I am driven to improving my personality.

2017 is another year where I create another version of myself for the better. 2016 was… alright, but it can definitely be improved. What does your 2017 version of you look like? At the end of the day, it’s your choice to climb up in life or down.

-D.V.

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Live. By Faith.

Dearest Reader,

Growing up in a Christian family, I have learnt countless of lessons about life. I have learnt to be gracious, to be kind, to live, and to live by faith. However, over the years, the latter two seemed counter productive. To live means to have an absolute vision and desire to achieve something, while to live by faith means to put your trust in the God who is in control of all things – good and bad. To me, I wanted to find a balance – if there is one – so that I can both live a life that is desirable to me, while also keeping my Christian faith intact.

This is a fallible perspective.

Over the years, I have been through what I can honestly call an interesting life. I will admit that it hasn’t been ‘difficult’, compared to that of people who live in worse conditions as I, but it has proven to feel like I’m always emotionally under tension, from the world’s expectation of me, my family’s expectation for me, and my own expectations for myself. Under these expectations, I have always felt like I was always late, always a late bloomer, and I desire to be in a position where I know I am capable of standing on my own two feet and call myself independent. My family has raised me to be great, and I feel like I am yet to achieve this standard. I felt like I needed to ‘live’ more and ‘live by faith’ less as I find my way to establishing myself.

Given my recent graduation from my first masters, and not liking the prospects of the field, and my most recent heartbreak, I realised that I am not as ‘far’ into life as most people would give me credit for. Though I have been working while I was studying, have been professional twice, and have quite a significant knowledge about the complexities of the healthcare system, when I encounter people and inform them that I am back to studying, their initial reaction is to respond with a sense of “you’re not an adult yet” – as if indicating that to become mature, to be the adult that people respect means to be earning money, regardless of whether that be $10,000 a year through to $100,000 a year. It’s infuriating.

Added to this, when in the prospects of relationships, people do not appreciate what I know and what I am striving for, but rather look at the immediate stability of the financial means. They want the ‘fun’ associated with being able to splurge in whatever they deem necessary. People don’t see the intangibles – the care, the knowledge, the passion – a person has, they just see the money. And to me, that’s fine now, as I know that those kinds of people are people who I know I shouldn’t meddle with.

This, then, given my situation, begs the ultimate question: Is there a way to live so that I achieve what I want to achieve, and live by faith so that I also make sure I understand that God is still in control? Yes. It’s simple. Combine them. Live faithfully. Live in such a way that you understand where you want to go and how you feel you’re going to get there. But, in doing so also understand that no matter how much energy you put into that vision, the road to that goal may change and, sometimes, prevent you from getting there – and that is okay. Adaptability, I feel, is the best quality a person can ever have. It allows them to adapt to change, whether that be minor or catastrophic, and flourish in that new environment.

Given it is 2017, I’d like to ask you two simple questions. The first: Have you got a vision for your life this year? And the second: Can you adapt to another vision if that vision doesn’t come to fruition?

-D.V.

Wine.

Dearest Reader,

If you were asked about something that mattered to you, what would you say? My guess would be something formulaic – though not irrelevant nor inappropriate – like family, friends or happiness. And that would be a real answer. But what if I were to ask you again, but this time with the hope of reaching a unique answer. What if I were to ask you to ponder what it is that is important to you aside from the paramount? What would you say?

For me, and this is aside from everything fundamental – like God, family, or friends – I would immediately respond with this: wine. Why wine? Mmm, well that, my dear reader, is something I’d hope you’d ask. Let me explain.

Wine, in many of its forms, to me, holds such a beautiful amalgamation of charm, complexity, and romance. Charm, because of its natural hue and colouration; complexity, because of its many scents and flavorous notes; and romance, because of its need to be cared for and looked after. All of these things come together to form a liquid that soothes, that touches, and warms the heart – and I love it.

In many cases, people treat wine like it is purely an intoxicant – which it is – but they fundamentally forget about everything else it offers. It offers an intimate story of how the grapes (Vitis Vinifera) grew, matured and fermented. In each taste of the wine, you are privileged to live through the life of the grape and sense everything it has to offer. Was the climate cool, temperate or hot? You can taste the ripeness and acidity of the wine. Was the soil high in minerals, or rocky or volcanic? You can taste the richness of the wine. Did the wine makers add any signature techniques to their fermentation process? You’ll also be able to taste that. In everything, from start to finish, you are given the opportunity to fill your palate with flavours that are unique to that vintage (the year the grape was harvested), and then once you have lived through that experience, it’s gone – forever. And I absolutely admire that.

In essence, this same perspective can be applied to all aspects of life. Most, if not all, of our life experiences, bear the same similarities to that of wine. We grow, adapt and ferment from many different environments making us unique in charm, complexity and romance. Every person has their own story, their own flavour, and when their time – our time – is over, that’s it. It’s gone forever.

How will you cherish the unique notes each person has? How will you enjoy it? Will you treat it like it’s purely an intoxicant? Or will you treat it with respect and marvel? That is purely up to you.

-D.V.

Dewitt’s Exposition.

Dearest Reader,

2016, as most of the people I’ve encountered have said, was, by no stretch of the imagination, lacklustre. It was the home for pain, sacrifice and countless reflection. Many of the events which took place in 2016 were of the challenging quality and, just to be quaint, I hope 2017 does not replicate in its footsteps.

I’d like to take this moment to change the pace of introspection. In many of my pieces, the ideas which took its foundations were inspiring and/or had great meaning to me. The next few pieces will prove to be different as it will resemble a similar, yet unique, form, in that rather discussing an in idea the piece would prefer to discuss who Dewitt Valentino is and the unique stories that he holds. This entire endeavour will result in five pieces, each with its own unique feature and story. I do sincerely hope you enjoy them.

Exposition, a word that greatly describes who Dewitt Valentino is. For those of you who are not accustomed to what the true nature of exposition is, it is essentially a process of tearing something apart to understand the complexities of something – or someone. Dewitt Valentino is quite like this. In everything he does, he aims to understand the unique complexities of it. How do people interact, and why do they interact? How do people feel, and why does it affect us so much? And, perhaps, the most important to him: why do people love? It is such a complex emotion, with powers that stretch the imagination. It can make irrational things seem rational, the illogical logical. And yet we strive for it, we yearn for it, and we long for it. What if the world didn’t need to love? Things would be so straightforward. Yet, this complexity adds colour to life and is something which – though has the power to destroy – has the capacity to build something unique in the person.

One of the biggest occurrences in Dewitt’s life in the past few years has been of love. He has sought to find it, but in doing so opened up a series of unfortunate events. It tore him into many pieces, broken him in more ways that he could ever imagine. Yet, despite all of these things, he has come out of it with an, even more, appreciation for finding that right person. To give oneself to a person who adores you far beyond imagination is a quality that he longs for, and is one that he hopes to return in the future.

In 2017, I, Dewitt Valentino, hope to appreciate life for what it is: a dynamic, ever-changing, world. How will you appreciate 2017?

-D.V.