Today I began to feel like a human being again. Before that was silence… or the sound of me hacking, coughing and blowing my nose like I thought it was an instrument designed to open the gates of paradise. Which wouldn’t have worked anyways after my recent attempts to make a deal with the devil if only I would be released from the mighty grip of the Tyrant Phlegm . By Friday, I had to conclude that my deal to sell my first born child to one of the world’s lesser devils had afforded me some pros and cons. I had NOT gotten rid of my bubonic plague but the weather for the holiday 삼일 운동 (a day to commemorate the March 1st Independence Movement against the Japanese occupation) was blessedly balmy. I mean gorgeous. I spent the day wandering around like a person just let out of a dreary psych ward, careful to never stray into the shade even if it meant crossing the road every few minutes or even walking down the middle of it. My friend and I ate ice cream in the park and saw a group of Koreans with a big sign that read “Human Sandbag.” Basically, you paid them 5,000 won and got to try and beat the shit out of them. They had protective head gear and they gave you boxing gloves and then the hitting commenced. Nice and straightforward. A waegookin girl got up there and made this kid’s noggin bounce back and forth like he was a bobble head. Then a Korean army guy nonchalantly paid and then chased his shorter/scrawnier opponent down like he just found out he’d slept with his sister. Yikes! Meanwhile, our bench neighbor was humming and singing simple melodic tunes on his guitar that had Bible verses glitter painted all over it. Perfect day.
The next day I had to go back to work and then back to the doctor, but after that I got to engage in one of my most favourite Korean activities. On doctor’s orders, I went to the 짐질방 with a friend and bathed my ragged body in the warm waters of a local basement sauna. There were so many pregnant women there! I thought I had unknowingly signed up for a tour of a water birthing facility. Probably just doing their end of the week ablutions before a wild night of belly dancing!
I plan to go back soon to the local hang out for big bellied fertile women and the ajummas who have left that time in their life behind them decades ago… It’s officially gone on the list of things that comfort me. However, tonight I was busy doing a somewhat recent addition to that list. I was at BELS (Buddhist English Library of Seoul) going to my weekly communal meditation practice. I’ve been going every Monday for several months now and do bowing meditation almost every day in the morning and before bed. Zen Master Dae Bong Sunim came to speak again and meditating and listening to him, I felt that great satisfaction of “this is where I’m supposed to be -right here, right now.” That desire to live my life. To throw off excuses and being afraid and just. do. it. To practice and through diligent practice gain self confidence, equilibrium and freedom.
“I want to beg you, as much as I can, be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart. Try to live the questions themselves like locked rooms or books that are written in a foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers; they cannot be given to you now because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. You will then, gradually, without even noticing it perhaps, live along some day into the answer.” -Rilke: Letter Four (1903)