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To Think Means to Understand

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Every time my pen scratches a paper, I realize something. Every time. Sometimes, it’s tiny, insignificant. Yet other times, when my head is really into it, I recognize something about myself that I’ve never really given much thought to.

Sometimes, my mind is engulfed in thoughts about my perspective of the world. It’s hard to resurface, to stifle those thoughts, so I let them overpower me. I was writing a story once, and I thought about one of my characters, Selena. She is a fierce, assertive person who is also a Dragon Rider, and she controls the weather with just her emotions. I decided that I needed to see the world from her point of view and gathered all the information I could. I thought about how I want to portray her. Now, Selena was born. She is a fearsome, beautiful warrior, who is very intelligent and intellectual. She knows she is a great fighter, her skills bringing even the best swordsmen of her hometown to infamy, but she does not ever suspect that her life could drift beyond that and find love. I had a mental picture of her then, a thin girl with black hair, pale skin, blue eyes, a determined set to her face, angular features, a catlike stance, and in all black: black leather jacket, pants, and tall boots. I knew I wanted my story to take place in a time where it was possible to keep being a Dragon Rider a secret, so I choose a time around the ninth century or so, in an empire that is only a figment of my own imagination. It would be just like reality, those distant years in our world, but the name of the country would be fictitious.

Then, I kept adding to Selena’s history. I fixed that she must’ve left home at around fourteen or fifteen years of age, accompanied by her dragon, Serpa. I reasoned with myself that there had to be a reason to leave her home town. I thought about it for a long time, then I gave up for the night and opened my book. The book I was reading had a character in it who was a lot like Selena, and she was an elf. I paused in my reading. What if…? What if Selena was part elf? She would have to be an elf from her mother’s side of the family. Her father, I already made up my mind, was too ordinary, too human. No, it would have to be her mother. But why didn’t her mother tell her? That would’ve been a big advantage. In a flood of considerations and realizations, I decided that Selena was away from home to find out who her mother was and to avenge her mother’s death by slaying the monstrous, malicious Tamad. I realized that Selena’s outlook onto the world is one of distrust. She feels as though the world took her mother unjustly from her, and how that happened was brutal. She doesn’t trust the world enough to get close to anybody for fear that that person will get taken away from her as well. As I thought about and wrote how Selena views the world, I realized that it’s quite likely that I see the world that way as well. Nobody I know well has passed away in my life and I have a good life, but it isn’t good that I have moved eight times in my fourteen-year-old life. It is unjust and cruel that I always have to leave behind great friends and meet all new people. I don’t think that’s at all fair. However, I know that life evens out the positive and negative moments, and it’s all going to be alright. I don’t think Selena knows that just yet. Or maybe she just doesn’t realize that she knows that.

I’ve found that writing also teaches me patience. I have been put through writer’s block time and time again. Once, when I was writing my story, Selena and her dragon, Serpa, had to land in an open space in the middle of the forest. I didn’t know what to write about after that, so I wrote that Selena “disappeared into the forest” surrounding them to look for food. I was trapped, then, not knowing what else I could write about. I just sat there, on my couch, my notebook in my lap, my pen still in my hand. I sat, almost motionless, only my eyes and my breathing giving me away, as I reread what I wrote so far. It dawned on me that I never explained how Selena met Serpa. My pen moved to the page before I was even certain of what I wanted to write. “It was two years ago, when I was fourteen” I wrote. “I would usually be plowing the fields, but it was my birthday, and my parents had declared that the day I became fourteen was a day that was to be celebrated day and night. We didn’t have a large celebration,…” I wrote and wrote, until finally I knew that Selena found what looked like a rock at her birthday party. The rock soon swelled in size, and, when it cracked open, Serpa, the dragon was revealed. When I wrote that, a wave of pride overwhelmed me for having enough patience to keep writing and fighting through the writer’s block.

There was also another time when I realized just how much writing granted me beyond just what I noticed at the beginning. I was thinking about a different character in my story, one that was completely different from Selena, but yet one that was actually her soul mate in life, her perfect match. I choose a temporary, random name for him, Caleb. He would be the one that fell head over heels for Selena. She would reject him at first, but, in time, she would come to feel the same way about him as well. This boy was much happier than Selena, also a good fighter, but less tense and he didn’t expect fights for the rest of his life. I thought about his outlook on life. He was a perpetually happy person. Nothing that bad ever happened to him, and even if it did, he didn’t dwell on the past. I thought more about him, and decided that many people felt this way about the world as well. Then I realized that even I think about the world that way sometimes. Sometimes, I just “go with the flow”, let whatever happens, happen. Like Caleb. I thought about this some more, and I realized that it’s quite possible that those are the two types of people there are: those who look at the world with distrust and try to expect things to happen so the shock will be less, and therefore spend their whole lives living in the past or the future. Then, there are the people that live in the present, people who don’t plan ahead for everything, just live in the moment.

People also tend to behave accordingly to how they view the world. Those who like to preplan are usually very busy, they have little leisure time, and they are more somber. They are sometimes more responsible, but they do not joke very much because they just don’t trust a joke. That joke might bring them closer to someone, and then that person might get taken away. People who live in the present, however, are less enveloped by their work. They don’t spend so much time planning ahead, preparing themselves for what will happen, for what might happen. People like that just…live. They joke more often, and they like to get closer to friends and family and not fear that those they love will be suddenly taken from them. So, writing also granted me the knowledge and insight into the minds of people who view the world in a brighter light. This very important to me, and I cherish that knowledge.

So, writing is important to me. It taught me about how I view life, how I view the world, how I view lots of things. I probably would not ever have thought about it the way I did if I didn’t have to describe a character to myself. I wouldn’t have known how other people view the world, and I wouldn’t have realized to the extent that I have how our views on the world influence the way we live. And, of course, I wouldn’t have been taught the patience that I have gained. If anybody asks me, “Why do you like to write?” and there is an undertone in their voice that implies that to them writing seems tedious, monotonous, boring. I tell them, very simply, “I like it because to me it’s fun.” I ignore their looks of skepticism and qualm, pick up my pen, and turn back to my story. Where I’m sure to discover some new fact or theory or opinion or something else.





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