Dear Elijah,

Nothing in today’s world beats the feeling of opening your mailbox and seeing it filled with colorful envelopes, addressed anywhere from California to Riga, the capital of Latvia. You can learn the experiences of people from all over the globe.

All it takes is 49 cents to mail a letter to anywhere in the United States, and $1.15 to mail a letter anywhere in the world.

The rewards far outweigh the cost.

After stumbling upon the subreddit /r/PenPals, I’ve started dozens of snail-mail correspondences. Every day, people there are constantly on the prowl for new people to write letters, emails and postcards to. Whether it’s to share their arts and crafts or to discuss today’s politics, there’s always a person somewhere that’s interested in learning about you. 

The best thing? There’s nothing superficial to it. All you need is paper, a writing utensil, an envelope and postage — no age, gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. is involved, just what you can dole out when putting pen to paper. It’s minimal effort as well. If you make sure you address it correctly, then within a week or two, you’ll get a response from anywhere you choose.

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The “Free Press” Plaque at the Newseum in Washington D.C.

 

This week, after sharing my blog with someone that I’ve been writing to for nearly three months, he sent me some questions about my blog:

I do have two questions. In “The Longer Introduction” you talk about being uncomfortable when you attempted to follow the guidelines set down by others on how to live a more meaningful life and coming to the realization that they are ideal versions of others’ lives, but not necessarily how you should live. You compare the books and stories you’ve read to religious testimony.

But if they are like religious testimonials then shouldn’t they be followed exactly? Religion is extremely dogmatic and if these methods are anything similar to religion then I think they are well.

Well, on one hand, you have religion, which can be a way of life. Followings such as Taoism and Buddhism aren’t necessarily all about a higher power — they can be essentially a conduct handbook, a set of guidelines to living. However, in “The Longer Introduction,” I related those books and how they’re essentially what I’m doing here: finding the best lifestyle to suit me.

And this blog, like their books, is a testimony on how perfecting my own life is benefitting me.

Of course, like religion, everyone can choose what kind of lifestyle they want to lead. While one person may find that a nonchalant and laid-back existence suits them, another might find that they flourish in a constant adrenaline chase. Even religions, such as Christianity, have many smaller sects that have their own dogma.

What matters, though, is what is derived. If you get value from one person’s testimonial, there isn’t necessarily a need to follow it word for word.

With that in mind, later in “Sixty-Six Days” and “Be My Friend” you challenge your readers to follow your example and build new healthy habits and weed [toxic] people out of their lives. It kind of seems to me that you’re taking a similar approach from the authors that you broke from. Then again, maybe these are dumb things to focus on.

Also, for the record, I do agree with your central premise that everybody has their own truth to live and should be able to pursue that truth (as long as it does not cause harm to others). Just my two cents.

I’ll admit, my challenges to the readers are indeed very similar to those of other authors, but I’d rather think of them as a thought experiment — a way to provoke deeper thinking in order to bring about change in one’s life. They don’t have to start new habits every 66 days or clean out their friends lists, I merely want the readers to think about these things.

With superficiality rampant in the physical world, I do believe that there’s a lot of superficial thinking that goes along with it. Surface level thoughts are sometimes the only ones we have throughout the day. “What am I going to do for dinner?” or “I wonder what they think of how I look.” And, sure, that’s how the brain is supposed to work; we’re not supposed to be in deep meditation all throughout the day. I hope that with each post that I create, even if it changes even a small aspect of someone’s life, I will have accomplished my goal.

The Perfect Ideal, my blog, is more or less my attempt at condensing my journey through life, my thoughts on how things should be and a thought experiment to provoke readers into questioning their reality. That’s the why of this blog. Whether you choose to act is completely up to you.

I hope that answers your questions!

Sincerely,

-LQH

P.S. If you’d like to write me, please find me on Reddit at /u/justaddblu and private message me for my dorm address. I’d love to be penpals; the more the merrier!

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