Rewrite yourself

lanternasEn route to Taiwan, I watched a movie called “Ruby Sparks” which was portrayed by Zoe Kazan who also wrote the movie because — according to Wikipedia — she wanted to uncover the idea of

being gazed at but never seen

(I think some of us can relate to this)

With a “500 days of summer” feel to it, this movie is about a writer who concocts a story centering around a woman named Ruby Sparks.  After realizing he was falling in love with this character, he wakes up one morning to find out she is a real person.  An added “benefit” to this phenomenon is that he can use his typewriter to control Ruby’s emotions, knowledge, memory, and actions.

Obviously, this type of writing is pure science fiction, but rewriting yourself is not.  Being human instills us with the freedom to rewrite ourselves.  And just as we are imperfect blog writers, so are we at rewriting ourselves.  Hallmarks of the year such as the new year or one’s birthday need not be the time to start rewriting ourselves, it could be tomorrow or it can be after reading this blog post.

I just finished reading A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan whose characters are prime examples of people who failed to rewrite themselves when met with unfortunate circumstances.  Although this book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and National Book Critics Circle Award, I managed to power through this horrible book.  This book was just too contemporary for my taste and it was fitting to find this book for an inexpensive price at “Gandhi books” in the modern Mexico City airport during a stopover.

IMG_2089Maybe I am just not hip enough to read this type of book.  Asia is at the forefront of all things trendy in fashion, electronics, pop culture, and beauty so being here is a constant reminder that I am not “au courant”.  However, I will not rewrite myself into a hipster because I am more intent in rewriting my character in more important fashions.

Despite the modernity, traditions remain in Asia.  So as part of Chinese New Year festivities, we walked to Taipei’s most popular temple, Longshan Temple, to pay respect to the gods…..also because one of my favorite Asian bakeries, 85C, is located right next door and it has been over a year since I visited any of their bakeries.  Here is my favorite pastry (double the size than shown in my picture below), which costs about 2 euros:


After honoring the gods, I proceeded to the ritual for my fortune telling.  (Tip:  On new years day Longshan temple is overflowing with people so do not go on this day if you do not enjoy being shoulder to shoulder with patrons and getting incense ashes in your hair.  I went one week after new years day.)

temploLongshan temple is surrounded by fortune tellers and even some furnish their predictions by using birds.  For me, I preferred to join the clanging of others by throwing “Poe”:

dropThese wood, cashew-shaped pieces are flat on one side and curved on the other, which represent yin and yang.  To start the process,clasp two pieces with flat pieces enclosed onto each other between the palms of the hand and introduce yourself to the gods.  Some whisper to themselves, while some merely mouth their words, but as for me, I do not move my lips and just contemplate my introduction that includes name, where I am from, why I am in Taiwan, what I hope to learn from my fortune, etc.

Then ask for permission to get a fortune.

The answer from the gods is noted by throwing the Poe onto the floor.

Yes:  One lands flat and the other lands on the curved side.  Three consecutive landings in this way confirms a positive answer from the gods.

No:  Both pieces land on the curved side upwards.

“Laughing answer” or unsure:  Both pieces land on the flat side upwards.

Once a “yes” is finally deemed by the gods, then you can randomly pick any of these sticks:

sticksLook at the stick for your number, place it back in the vestibule, then ask the gods if that is the number to your fortune.  If the gods do not “say yes”, then randomly pick another stick to repeat this process until the gods “say yes”.

The number on the stick corresponds to a numbered drawer holding a written fortune.  Here is the fortune I was led to.  Do you see some of my good fortune?

fortuneBut nobody can really tell what my future beholds, because I know that I can rewrite my life anyway I want.

One man who rewrote his life is Ang Lee.  His name is splattered all over the media in Taiwan due to his recent Oscar successes.  He used to be jobless as a Chinese-American struggling to make it into the film industry.  When he succumbed to the pressure of having his wife be the sole financial contributor to the family, Ang Lee enrolled in computer classes to become quickly employable.  His wife told him:

Do not forget your dream

And so, he did not pursue those computer courses and instead revived his dream of making films.

Since not everyone has a such a strong supportive wife as Ang Lee, let this blog post be a reminder that we are all writers of our own lives.

What will you write?