Deeper roots

By Marifi Jara

I AM taking a bow from this space, but that does not mean I’m uprooting (couldn’t resist the pun) from The Sunday Punch.

Column-writing is a big commitment. When Boss E. (that would be our Publisher-Editor Ermin F. Garcia, Jr.) asked me to start a column some five years ago, several months after I joined the newspaper’s team as associate editor, I was reluctant to say yes knowing the big responsibility it entails. But I nodded eventually, taking on the challenge, though with much hesitation.

I was kind of optimistic it would get easier over time. But every time I sat down to write a piece, including now, I would find myself in panic mode as I stare at the white screen, trying to put my voice on paper.

It’s nothing like the weekly grind of helping put the paper to bed with my task of editing, syndicating stories, and drafting the editorial. On presswork days, wherever our journeys have taken us and even on a holiday, I can sit all day totally focused, like a woman possessed, and get the job done. With Roots, I would be dawdling all week, allowing myself to be distracted by the most trivial of concerns, sometimes seeking distractions intentionally, (but there too, of course, were other legitimate pursuits that needed attending), and waiting, constantly waiting for the muse (or is that supposed to apply only to male scribes?).

I would eventually close a column after a dozen or so drafts and countless self-editing, and by the time I send it out to Boss E. and the editorial team, I would feel completely drained. But that is not to say there is no sense of accomplishment whatsoever. There certainly is a feeling of fulfillment at the thought that my small voice would be heard and hopefully help make a little difference.

Overall, I did my best to get across the message of the importance of keeping ourselves rooted in the basic values of:

  1. love for the earth, which should prompt us to be considerate of fellow humans, other creatures, and the limited resources in the world;
  2. reading and education as tools for expanding our mindsets, which is key to cultural, social, political and economic development; and
  3. shallow bliss – an appreciation for the simple joys in life.

My favorite pieces to write were those about food and cooking and eating, not only because these are among the top items in my list of simple pleasures but also because I believe that culinary art is one of the most important and telling aspects of any culture. Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are.

So there.

Who knows, perhaps a decade or so from now when I reach my golden age, I would be back to reclaim this space (if Boss E. will allow me the privilege) with a deeper commitment and permanently possessed by that elusive muse.

In the meantime, I am carrying on with the weekly devotion to The Punch (and our readers), loving the earth, reading, and the pursuit of shallow bliss.

Here’s to a great 2013 and beyond!

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