Posts Tagged ‘experiences’

Unrequited Benevolence

I have a bike.

I hate that bike.

I walked out of school Monday afternoon to find that my rear tire was flat on my mountain bike. This has become a common theme,  but I was genuinely surprised. Just a few days before, I had replaced both the tire and tube. With places to be and people to see, I headed off on-foot, eventually catching a bus home.

Tuesday morning In a rare weakness, I took the 3 mile taxi ride to work. It was humid and drizzly and I was running extra late. After school, not being committed to any other means of transit, I was obliged to walk my inutile velocipede (dysfunctional bike) home.

The route is characterized by a large hill where the tiers of my school occupy a bit of its southern slope. My apartment is nestled two valleys northwest. The bike ride goes fairly fast, 20 minutes if the stars are aligned (traffic lights rather) or considerably longer (especially if I am late for my Monday morning staff meeting(Murphy’s Law)).  Despite my intimate familiarity with the route, I found the walk to be quite daunting.

Onward and upward. Through vexing mist and husky humidity.

A third of the way up, and my bike came to a dead halt. The faulty tube had come out of the fresh tire and wound itself around the sprocket hub, derailleur and brakes. I cursed my luck as I unwound the greasy, mud-slicked mess.

Halfway up and all I could think was that I wanted to lock myself somewhere cold enough that my weeping pores would never again leak saline tears. I was so preoccupied with my sweaty misfortunes that I hardly noticed the passing-by umbrella toting student. I stopped yet again to bend down and rectify the irksome tube. Upon standing, I found the young doe eyed high school student silently staring at me. In an outstretched arm she held her umbrella towards me. I respectfully declined trying to explain the I was drenched in 85% perspiration and perhaps only 15% precipitation. Unswayed and likely confused she offered to walk me to the next bus stop. As we walked, we chatted a bit, and I learned she went to the all girls school on top of the hill. She was dismayed to learn that I needed to get all the way to Munsu-dong (the area in which my apartment is). As we neared the bus stop she again offered her umbrella. I didn’t have the heart to explain that I really didn’t have a spare hand to hold an umbrella. I declined as respectfully as I could. Nevertheless she seemed quite disheartened as she turned to continue back down the hill.

15 minutes later, I had crested the hilltop was was heading down. Now in addition to my own self pity, I had the guilt of turning down the students generosity. It dawned on me just how benevolent the girl really was being. The simple smell of rain and umbrellas are out. Snow also induces umbrella use. Shoot, even too much sun and Koreans are using their umbrellas.  For the girl to be without hers for the remainder of her 20 minute walk home, would have been a sacrifice indeed.

Yesterday morning, despite a freshly rolling mountain bike, I opted to take my other-less-problematic bike to school. It was the homestretch. I was cruising down the southern slope toward school. In roughly the place where I met the charitable high school student the day prior, I hit a pothole the size of Shanghai. Knowing the back tire was done for, I immediately stopped, got off and walked the remaining 20 minutes to school effectively landing myself in the exact same predicament as the day prior.

Karma for not accepting another generosity or a sign that public transit exists for a reason?

Today I took neither of my freshly patched bikes to school nor did I take a bus. Waking up 6 minutes after my class was supposed to begin, I again undertook the shameful taxi ride to school.

Heres looking toward a less eventful weekend and brighter (hopefully less humid) week ahead.


Woe is me l Part II

Recently I had been considering what it is that defines our lives. In the country I currently reside, its status, wealth and everything material that denotes who you are. I cannot berate Korea though; it’s the country I come from that’s the epicenter for this mindset. What is the “American Dream” if not a whole-lotta stuff?

I would like to think that the U.S. is redefining its dreams though. This is at least true in many small grassroots movements. One such movement has had me captivated for quite a while now: tiny houses. A tiny house is defined as being less than 400 square feet (37 m2). Due to permitting issues, they are often built on trailers and thus mobile. You don’t have to think too hard to imagine the benefits (and pitfalls) of such a lifestyle. At its core tiny houses advocate living simply and intentionally. A.k.a. “goodbye stuff”.

Despite the “uncoolness” factor, I was heavily involved with Scouting for the majority of my childhood. A sash completely filled with “merit badges” is a physical reminder of the subject matter covered in my 10 years. It’s not the lashings, knots and tourniquet skills that have stuck with me so much as the “learned the hard way” lessons that I still remember. Such as; a canoe moves a lot faster with less gear inside of it. A lighter pack makes for less of a sore back after a weekend of backpacking. And there is always the ol’ tick check routine as well as vigilante eyes always peeled for poison ivy.

All those years of camping have theoretically groomed me for a tiny house lifestyle. Simple, intentional living sounds so refreshing and liberating!

So if it isn’t my stuff or lack thereof that defines who I am, what is it? Obviously it’s a complex question but I think I have a temporal answer. Post-graduation, travel has defined my life. The things I have seen, the people I have met, the soil that I have trod. Experiences.

The sad thing about experiences is that they are fleeting. They are just as temporary if not more-so that everything else that is this world. Our memories are what we were given to maintain these cursory events. But, with genes like mine, I know better than to hang my hat on the securities of the mind. Some 5,000 years ago, perhaps my ancestors had a similar idea and got around to inventing the written language. So now we all have our words, a sound way to hold onto memories no doubt but cumbersome and unwieldy. Early in the 20th Century an ongoing advancement in technology prompted a newspaper to write “”Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.”

So there it is. The means for capturing experiences. Photography and more recently videography: “GoPro or go home” I like to say. I bought into both of these documenting technologies quite a while ago. Effective and concise. Yet…

I don’t know when or where the thought crossed my mind, **hereditary memory loss** but I know that it was while I was traveling. It occurred to me that while I travel for the experiences, the experience often becomes marred or completely missed by the desire, the NEED to document them. Yet, time and time again I am in full-on documentation mode.

I blame Facebook.

What a predicament that I am in. An existence filled with marred- once documented experiences now completely lost to the void that is the eidolic chasm of cyber-purgatory. While it’s deeply troubling in terms of immense time and finances lost, I cannot help but feel a bit lightened as I was a few months back when I lost that bulky wallet.

I cannot help but think that fate or something bigger is working to whittle me down like a Tiger Cubs pinewood derby car. I imagine if my Macbook Pro were to bite the dust, or my camera were to end up in the drink, that it would probably be the last straw. I would quietly slip off my shoes and head for the wilderness, one day to possibly return to civilization in a quaint tiny house on wheels. Me my cat, and her 13 stitches.