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.

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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.

Things.

Dearest Reader,

Rummaging through what can only be described as an organised chaos – my room, I was struck by a moment of pure reflective delight. As I sorted through many inanimate objects like CDs, old papers, computer parts, and other ‘fun’ things – as I once described them, I realised that these things, which once had some significant value, had lost their worth. I looked at them individually, searching through my memories to find exactly the moment where they did have value. And it was interesting. These things which were now worthless to me served a vital purpose during their time. They enabled me to achieve, to learn, and to excel, and without them, I couldn’t be where I am today. I was very thankful for the, now, worthless objects.

Reflecting on how this impacts me today, I was struck with this important truth. Everything has their purpose and their design. Sometimes things, much like the objects I was sifting through, was meant only to serve you at one precise moment and then become obsolete. It doesn’t mean that that object is no lesser important than the ones which serve a longer purpose, no, it just means that its design and use is different to that of the other object.

What scares me, though, is this: this doesn’t apply to only things, it also applies to everything – people. Some people are only there for a brief moment, but what they achieve and how they enable another person is part of their design. I don’t mean to make people seem disposable, but rather I want to accept that not everyone will be there at the end. People are ultimately that: people. They aren’t inanimate objects which often gets left on a tabletop. They are living, breathing, human beings who are also trying to live a life worth living.

In the end, as I finished rummaging through the stuff in my room, I realised that I am happy for everyone. I am thankful for the people who have bought into my life and for the people who were passing by. Both are equally important, as it is not necessarily only the people who stay with you who push you to your limits, sometimes it’s the people who don’t who do.

-D.V.

Falling Leaf.

Dearest Reader,

Have you ever wondered about how many individual moments happen as a single leaf float down from the tree it came from? Millions – no, billions – of people walk, hug, kiss and live as that single leaf float through the air. I wondered about this today. I wondered, as the person who I desired to care for walked away from me on the green hillside of my university, how many individual moments occurred in that same little amount of time. I was left with an emotion that is all too familiar that it felt ordinary, and was left essentially breathless. She asked me if I was okay, but what could I say apart from the all-too-typical “of course” as I felt emotionally torn. It’s been one hell of a morning.

Why am I writing about this experience? It’s quite simple. Before ‘her’ I told myself that this would be the last time I pursue a girl until I finished my studies. It would be a voluntary restriction on myself for two years, to focus, to endeavour, and to achieve. And so it is. As she walked away from me, and as I stared blankly at her vague direction I understood that within that momentary brokenness I knew what that meant and I knew what I had to do.

Many things in life don’t work in the way that you hope for, and that’s okay. I know better than to sulk in defeat. My head is raised high; I’ve stood up, and am walking. I don’t quite know where this road of life is heading… but that’s, I guess, part of the fun.

-D.V.

Above The Clouds.

Dearest Reader,

When a problem comes up in anyone’s life, it always seems to be upfront, confronting, intimidating and overwhelming. The moment takes over the person’s life, and in that time nothing seems to offer aid or relief. Whether that occurrence is minor in nature or is extravagant, it always just seems to take centre stage.

Flying above the clouds, as I travelled to Sydney, placed things in an odd perspective. I looked out from the window of my plane and beneath me was the beautiful suburbs of Sydney. On the tiny roads are tiny cars, and although they are probably moving at speed up to one hundred kilometers per hour, to me, it seemed like they were not making any progress at all. Isn’t it interesting that from way up there it seems like the normalities of life has vanished? You cannot see the stress that people are in as they probably frantically drove to work, or the parent who’s exhausted from taking care of their newborn that morning. Now, to be clear, what I’m not saying is to ignore it and be completely oblivious to these happenings, no. What I am saying is that perhaps it would be wise to acknowledge that in the bigger scheme of things we are not alone. We aren’t the only ones struggling, we’re not the only ones hurting and we aren’t the only ones pushing towards a better and happier life. Given this, then, it also means we aren’t entitled to feel anything owed to us when we go through these hardships, for if we are to feel entitled it signals that we’ve burdened more than everyone else – and we know that is false.

As I sit on this table, overlooking the Three Sisters at the Blue Mountains in Sydney, I am reminded of this truth. I’ve been blessed to have experienced a lot in my life. Many of those have been hardships and complete melancholy but a good chunk of it has also been with laughter and love. It is an odd thing to be thinking about these things whilst travelling – and more so to write about it – but the more I remind myself of this truth the better I know I will be in the future.

-D.V.

Silver Medalist.

Dearest Reader,

Perhaps the most curious attribute I have, which I often ponder about, is being a silver medalist. No, I don’t mean studies or work, for those areas of my life I’ve often achieved and excelled, but I do mean this for one particular area of my life: relationships. But before you make any assumptions – which is the lowest form of communication – let me start by mentioning that this is not limited to that of girls. I mean it for every relationship.

Being a silver medalist in relationships has had its toll on me. It’s begun to make me question how worthwhile I really am. Walking down the street, you see people often walking with other people, talking, laughing, and having a wonderful time. But here I am, walking in my own shadow, enjoying the little pleasures of life. What is it about these people that make them different? I don’t know.

What’s more confusing is that in most cases, and especially when new aquaintances meet me, people often compliment me on the way I present myself. They compliment me in my confidence, in my rapport building and in the way I carry myself. But, more often than not, in the same quick way I create these connections, I also lose them. People don’t stick, despite them apparently saying I am ‘one of a kind’ or ‘unique’, and I’ve learnt to live with that.

If I may sulk in a string of words, I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted primarily because I don’t understand. Friends want a person that is loyal and kind – traits that I cherish myself – and yet they don’t choose me, and ladies want honesty and love – more traits that I cherish myself – and yet they seem to always choose another. It’s frustrating that I have never felt how it is to be a gold medalist, a person who has won a person over purely because they see me as ‘the winner’, and I’m curious as to when I will have the privilege. Until then, however, I’m stuck in this predicament of choice: to build up a wall to protect myself from being hurt from being the constant silver and feel fine, or to continue this insanity which causes me to commonly feel a sense of melancholy by being second best – to be the alternative or backup.

I have no clue.

-D.V.