Korea Notes : Week 4 and 5

This is week five, but it feels like two weeks since my last post. ((EDIT: That’s because it has, oops))

I hit my strides like I belong now. I’ve gotten more connected with my church and lifegroup – a small family that meets very regularly and have made some good friends. I started a weekly cooking class at a local 요리학교 (cooking school), maybe am an above average student at language school, and have continued to pursue my high priority of eating moan-inducing foods. Today, I actually had Subway in Eungam and it felt like home.

I got to go to the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art last Saturday and was particularly looking forward to the work of Kim Soongui, a poet and multimedia artist. I had read about her work on a blog and was very intrigued. Much of her philosophy rests (no pun intended) in the minimal and calm aspect of being present and simply “paying attention.” In some of her interviews, she expressed some impatience or annoyance at avant garde’s obsession with highly produced, elitist, or bougie culture and attitude.

Her “Lazy Clouds” poem and the calendar she had made where each day is only “yesterday”, “today”, or “tomorrow” were particularly powerful to me because I have come into a real mindset of being present and approaching each day like this. The thesis behind Lazy Clouds is that living slowly, simply noticing, and taking in each moment often connotes laziness. Where much of her art is about being present and just relaying everyday life. In the busy-ness and high paced Seoul culture, I very much appreciate this work.

There is a special power in being present. Our world moves at a pace that will suddenly take you from where you are if you’re not paying attention. And it’s hard. It’s very hard to remain present. Emotionally, spiritually, physically – I’ve found the most significant times are when I’m able to be present with myself. Being able to genuinely and patiently feel my emotions and intuition is a foreign feeling when I’ve been constantly going-going-going for my whole life. It’s ironic, there is a Seoul-speed to things here that’s come up in conversation. In relationships, career, schooling – everywhere, it’s a very high-functioning society.

But the most difficult part in listening to ourselves is that, oftentimes, the truth that comes from that is a hard pill to swallow. It can trigger fear, anxiety, or flat-out anger, sometimes it digs up past things that we try so hard to suppress. How can we build trust with the self? What happens when our true selves shine through? Do we suppress and beat back at what we really see in the mirror? Or do we hang on to growth and wait to see new branches, bark, and fruit? This is something that I’m learning through my actions and taking steps into risk.

My impostor syndrome has been pretty quiet lately. I attribute this to resting in what’s true about me, and by letting what God has blessed me with take root in my heart and head. The clean slate that I’ve found myself in has given me a lot of good soil to play around in.

Lastly, being away from family for the holidays for the first time was really different, of course. My “Airplane day” (gotcha day, adoption day) falls on Dec. 21, Christmas, my parent’s anniversary, and new years all happen in one swoop, so it’s always a heavier time for me. Finding good people to share these times with was a great blessing. Waves of exhaustion, introspection, and exhilaration all sort of carried me through into 2020 and I’m glad to have shared that with newly found friends. Also, my parents were soaking up sunrays in Hawai’i, so I was sure they were perfectly fine ;).

Starting a new decade here is surreal. A couple affirmations that I’ve been using in these times are: “I’m open to God’s direction for my life, relationships, and pursuits”, “Be kind to yourself.”, and “Growth takes time and my creativity is unhindered when I allow it to reflect my emotions and uncensored filter of what’s around me.”

Merry Christmas, Happy New Years, peace and love,


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