Korea Notes : 8 & 9

Stress has had my keyboard wrapped up. It’s amazing how many thoughts our brain can become obsessed with at the same time, preventing us from focusing on what is really important. I experience this in a couple different ways: in the moment, when I realize that I’ve been worrying about the same things nonstop, and when I look back on a period of several days, or a week and think “man, where did the time go? I feel like I was all static this week.”

Over the last two weeks I’ve ridden the rollercoaster of hope and despair, wondering when I could move on to the lazy river for a bit, and finally I’ve made the choice to get off. Visiting the immigration office multiple times, receiving different information each time, glancing at my dwindling checking account, fretting at my lack of occupation, and the infamous Corona Virus going around, have all been a lot of plates to spin. On top of it all, or maybe to add a tight-rope balancing act underneath, I’ve have nonstop been thinking about the ambiguity around reconnecting with my birth family.

That has all taken up a majority of my brain density the last week. But, with all that worrying and self-doubt that comes with it, I’ve come through to rely on my perseverance, support from friends and family, and to rest in meditation practice. “Don’t give up” is such a common and light platitude, but amid life’s adversity and challenges, there’s soooo much to be said about it. When things and circumstance are difficult, I find that my own attitude and thoughts prove to be the biggest challenge in overcoming and moving forward.

Author Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, gleans the most from life and finds so much inspiration from simply paying attention to the world around her. She writes that “Survival lies in sanity, and sanity lies in paying attention…the capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.” I think this falls along the lines of taking in what we have, and focusing on what is in our control over what is not – the latter, draining away all our delight in life. My recent times have very much been caught up in things that I don’t have, or wish that I had, rather than focusing on what I am currently able to do, affect, and experience.

In my meditation practice, I’ve been learning and honing different mindfulness tools and general state of mind. In this sense, it’s really boiled down to my choice to let worry occupy my soul. What has me so constricted is important, yes, but it doesn’t need to become an obsession that takes over my life.

My fruitless grasping for my end goals certainly defines the last couple weeks for me. I’ve always excelled at envisioning my future, but have struggled with executing steps 1, 2, and 3. However, I also traveled south to the Busan and Changwon areas to connect with my cousin Weston, celebrated Lunar New Year over barbecue with friends, have grown closer with my classmates, seen so many beautiful people, and have continued to very much so enjoy my time here in Korea.

The pictures below are of the beautiful island of Taejongdae, also a cool park that is an entire island right off the mainland of Korea. It’s very quiet, a much needed change in contrast with the endless buzz of Seoul. Weston and I explored it and caught up on the last couple years of him being here, getting married, family things, and how we’ve grown since college, when we met and found out we were related.

The ocean is breathtaking and so grounding. I felt that I really needed to be away from my apartment and from the stress that I had been putting myself through. So, this was the perfect way to refresh and relax. Thanks Weston!

I am going to try to put out the next posts in a timely matter, so thanks for sticking with it.

Karl~

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