In life, we face so many hardships and struggles. But as much pain we face, we also face so many beautiful moments. And a majority of the beautiful moments we face comes from our childhood. But as we grow up – from a child to an adolescent, then to an adult – we tend to forget about all the happy and joyful memories of our childhood. Yes, so do I. This is the reason why I believe that the best way to live life is to be like a child – no selfishness, no deceiving, no greed, no cheating, but simply “innocent”. Living with the mind of a child not only leads ourselves to living a genuinely happy life, but also leads us to share such happiness with others. When we are able to break the barriers between us – barriers that are filled with competition, rivalry, and fight – and open up ourselves to one another, it is no doubt that all of our lives will be so much richer. Mankind has created society, not simply to promote repression (which is what many of us believe to be all there is in our society), but to bring more depth to our lives through living with others. Indeed, it is so easy to surrender to society’s promotion of “survival of the fittest” and look at the people around us only through an eye of competition; but in fact, it is so much easier – and rewarding – if we choose to take a different path: a path of innocence. Just like children do (even without realizing), looking at others through an eye of purity is what the modern day society really needs. If we all tried to recall the joyful memories of our childhood one by one, day by day, and become more “childlike”, life would be so much more amazing for both you and me.

And because this blog post was inspired by my 12-year-old little brother Elliot, I would like to give him recognition – in a slightly different way. He has always been my little teacher from time to time without even realizing that he was – how great is that? if you could accomplish something without even trying 🙂 Today, I came across a small piece of writing he wrote for homework. The topic of the writing was fear – for us, adults, (although technically, I’m an adolescent) if we were told to write about how we were able to overcome our fear, we would strangle ourselves to pick out a moment in our life when we faced such and such adversities, but later on stood upon them and became some greater human being – and of course, add some exaggeration and a few failed attempts of witty sayings. Yes, everyone faces some sort of hardships in life, which means anyone can write such stories. However, not many can make the topic our own – something of genuineness, sincerity, and warmth. Something simple, yet meaningful. The story that my little brother wrote – the writing itself – is really not anything about morality or ethics – it’s just a small story about ghosts. It doesn’t imply anything, really, about life or society or the world; it’s just a simple piece of writing. But what it does have is a sense of innocence, purity, and unintended humor (which is something adults certainly don’t have). And that’s what was able to carry me back to my old days of childhood, hopefully for you too.

What I’m afraid of and How did I Faced it?

By Elliot Kim

When I was 11, I had a friend name Carlos. He came to my house, and we played a horror computer game at about 7 pm. The game was about escaping Freddy Krueger’s old abandoned house. About one hour later, we beat the game, by killing Freddy with holy water.

After we beat the game, Carlos told me about Freddy Krueger. He said Freddy Krueger is a horror character who goes around and kills people in their nightmare. After he told me about the story, my body was shaking, and I couldn’t help to sleep. I was very scared. But, a brilliant idea popped up in my head. As I said, at the final round of the game, we kill Freddy by pouring holy water at the right timing. Also, something just said in my head.

It was Carlos saying “In order to make holy water, you need to put 1 gram of salt in a water. So, I went to the dark kitchen, (it scared the heck out of me, because it was very late, about 2 am –;) and got the salt, and carefully poured it in the cup of water. I delicately settled the cup down, (So that nobody can wake up) and slept quietly.

The next day, I told my mom what I did and she started laughing. I didn’t know why, and she said ghosts aren’t real, and God will protect me or something. So, after the “Talk”, I knew it was immature to believe in ghosts or do all those stuffs. I was happy to know that ghosts aren’t real, and ever since I knew ghosts aren’t real, I slept with no problems.

To me, it’s funny and inspiring at the same time how he, as a child, interprets “fear” as something so shallow, yet touching – a ghost like Freddy Krueger – and “overcome” as something so superficial, yet humorous – holy water AKA “water with 1 gram of salt”. Do you see now? This is the power of innocence.

Affirmation – Savage Garden

In our world, there are so many questions that haven’t been answered; so many issues that haven’t been discussed; and so many doubts that haven’t been affirmed. I believe that all of us are ultimately living to find answers – answers to the thousand different kinds of questions life brings to us. Sometimes these questions regard me, as a person, but often, they regard us, as a whole. Although none of us look, think, or live exactly like one another, on the bottom line, we are all humans who want the same thing. Ultimately, we all want to be heard, seen, recognized, connected, and loved. We all want to share our lives with someone special, become successful in what we do, and live a life that only gets better day by day. We carry different interpretations of the world and possibly, even different kinds of ways of living life. But above all this, we still hold the same questions to our lives regarding the reason behind our existence. And as we mature as individuals, we begin to discover more about ourselves, life, and the world, searching for our own answers to these questions. And once we find answers, we seek to express ourselves by spreading these answers to others through different ways. As for me, I express my answers through writing – and talking – because I like to be descriptive and detailed. However, what can possibly be an even more effective way of expressing our answers is through the most simplistic way – music. Music, as a part of media, has become one of the most influential – if not the most – elements of our society that holds us all together. Regardless of your personal background, music is a universal force that can speak to all of our minds in the most complex, yet simplistic way. As a person who doesn’t usually delve into music, what attracted me so much to this song was – more than its melody – the truth it carried through the way it spoke to me. The song presents its own answers to the questions we all hold in our minds in a very truthful and honest manner. In fact, I think it holds some very correct answers to so many of the struggles, arguments, and adversities we all face in our lives.

Affirmation – Savage Garden

I believe the sun should never set upon an argument
I believe we place our happiness in other people's hands
I believe that junk food tastes so good because it's bad for you
I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do
I believe that beauty magazines promote low self esteem
I believe I'm loved when I'm completely by myself alone

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

I believe you can't control or choose your sexuality
I believe that trust is more important than monogamy
I believe your most attractive features are your heart and soul
I believe that family is worth more than money or gold

I believe the struggle for financial freedom is unfair
I believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

I believe forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness
I believe that wedded bliss negates the need to be undressed
I believe that God does not endorse TV evangelists
I believe in love surviving death into eternity

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

The Catcher in the Rye

It is 2:30 A.M. and I’ve just sneaked out of my room into the bathroom, hoping desperately that I wouldn’t get caught by my parents. Well, I’ve been trying to go to sleep for the past 2 hours, but this one question in the back of my mind that has been bugging me lately caught up with me so tightly today that I could not fall asleep. For your understanding, it’d be like trying to restrain yourself from cigarettes and alcohol for Korean dads (not my dad), or from corny Korean soap operas for Korean moms (yes, my mom), or from a bag of goldfish lying on the floor for all dogs on this planet, especially my dog. Yes, this question that has been bugging me lately can be metaphorically compared to such things that I’ve just mentioned. To be frank, the question had always been on my mind ever since I entered high school, it’s simply that I’ve never really had time to fully explore the scope of it until summer came. The question, very similar to what J. D. Salinger asked to our society through the very-humorous Holden in the book The Catcher in the Rye, is probably really what every teenager once asked themselves, is currently asking themselves, or will ask themselves one day. “What are we here for?” Similar to Holden’s life story, my life just simply has been provoking me to ask this question to myself lately. Born into a wealthy family, attending an unimaginably expensive school where everyone has enjoyed a just as, if not more, spoiled life, surrounded by a community where superficiality persists to sicken my belly, living in a society where success equals academic achievement, economic prosperity, or social position, and being part of a country that is too blind to see its extremely-corrupt government – all drive me to ask myself what am I here for? When everything seems so meaningless and purposeless, when everything sickens my belly more day by day (the more I get to know about the world), when there seems to be nothing I can fix within my power as a teenager – what am I here for? A society where marriage still struggles to find its true definition, as it is used as a way to connect family to family to improve one’s social status or enlarge one’s wealth or strengthen one’s social/political power (My awesome history teacher Mr. Spivey once told me that the concept of love is like a new-born baby. It hasn’t been around until the 20th century – or more broadly, the modern times. Throughout history, marriage has always been for a variety of purposes, except love. – My response is more like “True, however, it still has a long way to go to evolve into something of true value). A society where love is often expressed in very wrong ways – where the only way parents show their children love is through simply sending them off to expensive schools of high quality education (but again, that’s another long story) where what we really learn is how to become so self-conscious, compete, cheat, get stressed 24/7, and endure a life that is visibly not making us happy at all. I know that I’m digressing a lot here, but let me point this out: don’t all teenagers/students/young adults – whatever you prefer – try to bear this life that no one else has any idea how unhappy it makes us by thinking, “Oh, just endure four years of high school – which is technically a small portion of the average human life span of 80 years – then I’ll be happy after getting into an Ivy League university, then possibly getting a decent job at some fancy company or become a lawyer or doctor – talk about THAT one.” Well, the truth is, even those FOUR years, although a small portion of the 80 years of average life span (unless you get hit by a truck one day or something), are still a PART of my life, your life, our lives. Do we really have to waste our youthful years – which, by the way, lasts very short and cannot be returned even with botox – doing something that doesn’t make us happy? Nonetheless, what I want to argue here is not just about academics – and not because they can be stressful at times, because pain is something all of us have to deal with; in fact, the only way we mature as individuals is through pain – facing and overcoming adversities of life – but about the society we live in. At least for me, everything seems so pointless. Just like how Holden felt about his life, completely surrounded by the superficiality and artificiality of society, I find myself every morning, waking up early in the morning, going off to school like a robot, taking up on a ton of workloads at school, returning home, then studying past midnight. Yes, I do “extra curricular activities” at school, such as drama/theatre, – which is probably the only thing that even kept me this far – speech and debate, habitat for humanity, newspaper stuff, and others, but doing these trivial things – which I “do” enjoy – doesn’t change the core span of my life. Again, besides academic stuff, the hundreds of plastic surgery hospitals in my town/city – no exaggeration here. literally. – the ongoing conversations about the newest PRADA purse among women, famous hagwons for students among moms, increased wages at work among men, endless gossip among ajummas (these are the ONLY kinds of conversations I hear at coffee shops, restaurants, and EVEN BOOK STORES. GOD PLEASE. DO THEY HAVE TO GO THAT FAR? CONTAMINATE SUCH HOLY PLACE???), and especially my friends, all suffering from their miserable lives, yet thinking it’s an inevitable phase of life that everyone has to pass make me question the purpose of my existence even further. THEN THE MORE STUPID PART COMES (i discovered that you say “more stupid” not “stupider” by my Latin teacher) I’M CONSTNATLY CRITICIZING SUCH ARTIFICIALITY OF THIS SOCIETY, YET I CAN DO NOTHING BUT TO FOLLOW ALONG WITH IT DUE TO THE FEAR OF BECOMING A FAILURE OR AN OUTCAST. Simply, how painful it is to know that something is not right, but have no choice except adhering to it. And I look at myself grow more selfish and self-absorbed each day due to the desperation of getting into an Ivy League university and the duty to abide by what society tells me to do, thus, forgetting to turn around to the people I care for and most of all, myself.

This blog post was not provoked by the stress I’ve been receiving from my life. My blatant mockery of our society is not deriving from my personal suffering. Rather, it comes from the STUPIDITY that I’ve witnessed all my life, yet was never brave to call it by a name. So, now we ask ourselves again, “WHAT ON EARTH ARE WE HERE FOR?” And of course, to answer this question, I say “for something” as of now. Hopefully, after going through this phase of “puberty” – except I’m too old for puberty – I’d see more of the world through my own eyes and discover what that “something” might be.

Politics – why does it matter?





(because if you’re frightened by this, boy, you’re not ready for life)






Explanation will be posted later. Just couldn’t even wait a second for anyone out there to listen to amazing Shirley MacLaine and become more exposed to the fundamental basis of our society – Why politics matters so much to our lives

Salvador Dalí – The man who drives my sister crazy

If you really knew me as a person, you’d probably get a grip that “art” is not one of my interests. I’m interested in theatre, literature, psychology, sociology, humanity’s responsibility (worded badly, I know), contemporary world issues, international NGOs, politics, and other random thoughts about life and society, but NOT art. Not only am I embarrassingly horrible at it, but I also don’t get it. My inability to comprehend art is so bad that I’d probably become fluent in freaking Bantu during the time it took me to understand one piece of art work. Ever since I was little, my mom has always been taking me to places such as museums (all sorts of KINDS of museums), plays, musicals, operas, historical places, exotic libraries, exhibitions, and plenty more, including art galleries. And I remember very clearly, every single art gallery I’ve ever been to, I didn’t get anything. I got so bored to hell every single time. I would simply stand in front of a painting, stare at it, nod a few times to pretend like I was getting it, then move on – and repeat this same cycle for about 50 different paintings. And the worse part comes when after we get out of the gallery, we begin discussing it. And because my little sister’s an art genius – no exaggeration here – and my mom loves art and so does my dad and my little brother’s young (and stupid) enough to get away with not really getting anything -> leaves our family with me being the only who doesn’t get art. So I’d simply nod my head a few times, say stuff like “Yes, what an abstruse message lying there” and try not to say something stupid that’ll reveal my horrible relationship with art. But don’t get me wrong here, I am extremely grateful for my parents always trying to expose me to different things in life for my inspiration and even simply for sweet family get-togethers. And my parents aren’t one of those arrogant elite-class citizens who go to art galleries and pretend like they understand it to appear smarter thant they really are – they genuinely enjoy art. On top of that, my sister’s incredibly talented in art, which leaves me with no choice to be stuck with going to art galleries all the time. Maybe my brain just naturally doesn’t function in such ways. Maybe I’m just meant not to get art. But for whatever reason, it’s a proven fact that I don’t get art and I never will.

So, then why in the world did I dedicate a whole CATEGORY of my blog to art? Not even arts, but just fine arts. Well, that’s because for some reason – maybe because I’m so bad at it – I’ve had so many people in my life who have influenced me significantly on what art brings to their lives (cough cough), especially my sister. If I was naturally born to not get art, my sister was naturally born to get art. She’s not one of those people who go to a ton of art hagwons, wanting to somehow bring out their absent-art-potential (how hard it must be for someone to bring out something that’s not there). And she’s not one of the many Korean students who are trying to major in art, because it is often said that it is easier to go to a good college when you’re majoring in art. No, she’s someone who genuinely enjoys art. She has a genuine passion for art, guided by an innate talent in it – which is one of the many reasons why I’ve always been insanely jealous of her. But even someone like my sister, whom I almost revere when it comes to art, claims to feel as though her self-esteem drops heavyly every time she sees the art work of a certain artist. The story goes like this: we were in a fight one day – more like an argument – about how miserable we feel about life at times (Yeah, I know. What a sophisticated fight for a 16 and 13 year-old). And in the middle of the fight/argument, she shouted, “Do you have any idea how miserable I feel about my art work when I see Salvador Dalí?” (Believe it or not, she’s 13 years old – bet she’s gonna age quicker than my parents). And the argument ended there.

That night, when I got into bed, I thought to myself, “What kind of a man can drive my sister, whom I practically worship as an artist, crazy like this?” So the next day, I decided to do a little research on Salvador Dalí’s work of art.

To be extremely brief – due to my ignorance and lack of knowledge – Salvador Dalí was a surrealist artist who was deeply influenced by the Renaissance masters. But Dalí’s fame doesn’t simply come from his paintings, but also his sculptures, writing, photography, and films as well. He was born on May 11, 1904 in a Spanish town called Figueres. His ancestors were supposedly have descended from the Moors, Muslims who migrated to inhabit the Iberian peninsula early in history (Yay, AP world history). He is best-known for his painting of The Persistence of Memory from 1931. And according to what my sister has told me, his ingenious talent in art was spotted by his parents at a young age and was sent to an art school in Spain; but due to his arrogant attitude, thinking that he didn’t deserve to be taught by his teachers, he was expelled from the school. Regardless of such intriguing personality, he became one of the leading surrealist artists of his time and is still widely known today for his ingenious work of art.

Now, in spite of my extreme ignorance in fine arts, I have gathered some of Dalí’s most famous works with a bit of guidance from my sister, who is currently laughing at me for writing such blog about her (AND being extremely cocky about how I said I “worship” her as an artist). So, now it’s time to shub Dalí’s ingenious paintings in her face to lower her self-esteem a bit here, because as of right now, her self-esteem has risen way too high.


The Persistence of Memory – 1931

And now I’m kind of thinking

Yeah, I see why my sister goes crazy over this guy.

Yet, what I should have told her, as a reliable older sister, was that you can never achieve anything by comparing yourself to others. Inevitably, there’s always going to be someone who’s going to be better than you at what you do. And no, you can’t do anything about that; but what you can do is simply keep on driving yourself to move forward with passion. Not because you want to “beat” someone else, but because you really do have a genuine passion for what you do. Of course, my sister can never equal Salvador Dalí’s work, not necessarily because he’s better (although he is quite ingenious), but because they’re just two different individuals with two different kinds of visions for what they do. But what my sister can do is instead of trying to beat or equal the work of Dalí, continue to move forward with the genuine passion and love she has for art. And that is what is going to lead to true success.

All you need is Love?

Even aside from the famous Beatles song, people often say, “All you need is love”. Love between man and woman, mother and daughter, friend and friend.. Yes, love is undoubtedly everywhere, often bringing dramatic changes to our lives. Love is unquestionably one of the strongest forces – if not the strongest – that shapes mankind, sometimes even empowering us to do miracles that we never knew we were capable of. Its power is so overwhelming that it can sometimes destroy our lives when it leaves us. Love is powerful, yet fragile, strong, yet gentle, and passionate, yet delicate.

This is why we all long to love and be loved, because its presence can vitalize us, but its departure can demolish us. We all try to hold on to the many different forms of love that is present in our lives, because we’ve tasted what love feels like. Just like how little children resist to let go of their lollipops after they’ve tasted how delicious it is, we hold on to love after we’ve tasted it. It is what connects us to others with a powerful bond, making us feel secure and protected. Life with love and without love is not even comparable; those who have it live life on an almost multi-dimensional scale.

So, love is what connects our soul to one another’s, or at least that’s how we often define it. However, there’s a reason why we say, “love is all you need” – something beyond simply love between two individuals: love with oneself. If those of us who share love with others live a completely different life from those who do not share love with others, those who share love with others and themselves live an almost divine life. Yes, loving and being loved by others allows us to do miracles; but loving ourselves – truly loving ourselves – allows us to to live beyond the span of life and death. Those who love themselves live life to the fullest; those who love themselves are not afraid of death; and those who love themselves also know how to love others. And that is why we often say that we need to fall in love with ourselves before we do with others.

Now, besides the fact that the Beatles’s song was a hit throughout the world, there is a reason why we say “Alll you need is love”. It doesn’t simply refer to that all we need in life is to love and be loved by others. All we need is love because all we need in life is loving ourselves and others – that’s what a genuinely meaningful life looks life. When we can love ourselves and others, we are always fully-present in life, enjoying every second of it. Yes, you might wonder how there are so many different elements in life that we cannot simply say that all we need is love. But if you look carefully, all the other elements of life, such as insight, patience, generosity, or any one of the thousand and million elements of life, will always naturally come to anyone whose life is filled with love. It’s almost as if they are inseparable, as if love is inseparable from any of life’s elements.

SO, YES! We don’t need to be rich in life,



Just in case you didn’t read my second blog (25 facts about me that turned to 30 facts), my little brother Elliot was named after my dad’s favorite poet of all times T. S. Eliot. While searching on the internet about T. S. Eliot I came across with a very famous poem he wrote about love. As it is often said, “There is only one happiness in life: to love and be loved” I picked this quote especially for its portrayal of love.

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

– T. S. Eliot

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair –
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin –
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all –
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all –
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all –
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet – and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all” –
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.”
That is not it, at all.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor –
And this, and so much more? –
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous –
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

“Take away love, and our earth is a tomb.”
– Robert Browning

Talents – innate or achieved?

In this world, there are different kinds of unbelievable talents everywhere. Some with writing, some with singing, dancing, acting, speaking, numbers (never get these kind of people), sports, instruments… there’s a hundred more you can name if you wanted to. But the one kind of talent that I simply cannot comprehend (even more than math) is the artsy people. At age three, I witnessed the birth of a little baby who was born innately talented in art – no exaggeration here; she was born as an artist. Growing up, I’ve simply watched my ingenious little sister grow even more talented day by day at an unbelievable rate. Aside from the fact that I’ve been completely shocked by my freaky little sister all my life, the primary reason why I cannot comprehend artsy people is their ability to express a thousand words in one single painting. It is often said that “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” They really are. My struggle is that I simply cannot understand how people express a thousand words in a picture in ways that are so inspiring that make me doubt whether their talents are innate or achieved. Now, to digress a bit here, aside from my freaky little sister, there is another freaky – if not “freakier” – person I know that is insanely talented in art. So today, I decided to hold a small online-art gallery of my friend Beatrice Park’s art work (BTW, all through computer “photoshop” – God, even more insane).

From free drawings to professional drawings and theatre posters, my ingenious friend Beatrice Park drew all of the above art works on “photoshop” – computer photoshop. INSANE. COMPLETELY INSANE. The unbelievable talent she possess – without not knowing herself how talented she is – simply fills me with awe. These kinds of talents are what make me wonder whether men’s unbelievable talents are innate or achieved. But regardless of the answer to this question, I just simply bow down to my amazing friend Beatrice Park – not just for being an inspiring artist, but also for being such an insightful person.

“It is not the exactness that determines the value of the portrait- it is the artist’s expression of affection and fondness that makes a portrait priceless. This can also apply to life in general. It is not one’s dexterity or completeness that makes one great- it is one’s passion and effort that makes one’s life a masterpiece.” – Beatrice Park –


Cacambo – the ultimate weed

It is probably appropriate that I eventually explain why my blog title is “HAPPY CACAMBO”. Not because I’m generally an unhappy person 🙂 but because not many of you probably know what Cacambo is. Well, take that back. More like NONE of you would know what Cacambo is. To give it away a bit, Cacambo is a character in a certain novel by a certain French author of the Enlightenment Age (Well, that practically gives it away). But because Cacambo was neither the main character nor even really a supporting character, it is very unlikely that ANYONE would really remember the dude. Unless you’re obsessed with Voltaire’s Candide, it’s extremely unlikely that you know who the dude is. Well, firstly, Candide is a satirical novel written by French author Voltaire during the Enlightenment Age. Candide is basically about a naive/stupid (I’d go with the latter) boy named Candide living in Westphalia, who takes a long, arduous journey in search of practically NOTHING with another stupidly stupid professor called Pangloss, who claims to have degree in métaphysico-théologo-cosmolonigologie. And Cacambo is the three-second-appearance servant of Candide. Not only is Cacambo an extremely minor character, just in between something of boy 1 and head-nanny, there is no special quality about him that would make readers remember him, in spite of his short appearance duration. Yet, what made him seem so memorable to me was that he was the only character that survived through the arduous, looking-for-nothing journey with his stupid, yet optimistic personality. In simple words, Cacambo was the ultimate weed of Candide. Yes, there was nothing special about Cacambo that made him stand out in a whole bunch of other dumb characters, yet his slightly stupid, but optimistic mindset led him through the journey like a weed. A WEED. YES, A WEED. A WEED. And just like Cacambo, I want to be a happy weed. I want to be a weed in life, hopefully not a dumb one like Cacambo, but still some kind of weed. Yes, you might be thinking what a dream – like is that all I want to achieve in life? become a freaking weed? Now what I mean is that I want to survive through any adversity life presents to me with an optimistic mind and guide others through their own challenges in life, as Cacambo did to his master Candide. And yes, Cacambo was not a leader, but was a helper. Like Cacambo, I want to dedicate my life to helping others, leading others, and loving others, because I know how much of a happier life I can live by sharing with others than living in solitude. Whether I shine on the forefornt as a leader or quietly work in the background as a helper, I want to be a weed that survives through life and spreads itself to the plants around it. In the end, I think a Cacambo – that’s what all of us need to be.

Are you happy?

It is the question that I rarely ask myself; it is also the question that people rarely ask themselves; it is the most important question to be answered in life, yet is never asked: “Am I happy?”

Often times, we live our lives without ever asking ourselves, “Are you happy?” And when we actually do (on a rare occasion), we often cannot answer the question clearly or even comprehend it at all. We begin to ponder, “What does it mean to be happy? Am I happy? What is the criteria of being a happy person?” And even for those of us who answer “YES” begin to question ourselves afterwards, “Wait … Am I?”

Why is it that we can’t confidently say yes to this question? Why is it that we live life ignoring the most crucial element to be fulfilled? Why is it that we try so hard to be “successful” in our society, yet never seem to be able to connect success to happiness?

Now, if we think carefully, the primary reason why we strive to become successful in our society, as most of us are, is to become happy, whether you’re aware of it or not. Fundamentally speaking, the reason why our parents want us to go to Ivy League universities is for us to become happy, satisfied individuals living a happy life. Everything we do in life, whether we are aware of it or not, is fundamentally for us to become happy individuals. On the surface, we crave success in profession/occupation, economic prosperity, or intellectual achievement – however, if we look carefully, we do such things for the purpose of achieving happiness – subconsciously, most of the time. Because most of us believe that achieving superficial success will potentially bring genuine happiness and joy in life, we thirst for such superficial successes. But regardless of whether this cycle of thinking – which is believed by most people of our society – is correct or not, it is true that all of us do what we do in life ultimately to become happy, satisfied, content individuals. Now, then the question becomes, why can’t we confidently say, “I am happy” if all of us our spending our lives trying to become happy?

The answer is that we forget. We forget the fact that what most of us try to achieve in life is for us to become happy individuals; not individuals who are wealthy, renown, or intelligent, but individuals who feel happiness in life. We get so caught up with the competitions, time-managements, and races in our lives to become successful in our society that we forget to take care of ourselves. We forget that what we do in life should be for us, not for anyone else or society, and begin to live as though what we do is for praises, recognitions, and awards. It’s that simple of an answer: we forget to look back on ourselves, to try to see how we really feel about life, to figure out if what we do is really making us happy or simply making us busy, discontent individuals, to check if we have a genuine passion for what we do, and to ask ourselves if we are happy.

As a Korean student attending an international school in Korea, this is exactly the scenario of how I’ve been driving my life. Expectations are extremely how in the Korean community, whether from parents, teachers, peers, schools, or society; they surround us from inside out, continuously pressuring us to forget to take care of ourselves. In my case, luckily, my parents were enlightened beings who taught me about the stupidity in superficial success and what it means to be truly happy. All my life, they taught me that happiness doesn’t come from superficial success, but can only come when we are in love with our life. And to be in love with our life, we need to live life by truly abiding by our passion. Studying to get into an Ivy League university without knowing why you are, picking an occupation for wealth or social recognition, or busying ourselves with something that’s only making us busy, not happy, can get us nowhere but a superficially good-looking life.

However, although I knew these facts in my head, I never embraced them with my heart. Although my parents did not put ANY academic pressure upon me, I felt as though the only way I could be happy was through academic success. I began to push myself so hard that I got to a point where I completely collapsed in front of the burdens I put upon my own shoulders. I wasn’t even devastated or depressed; I simply grew numb. I became so numb to my life that I began to not feel anything. My heart wasn’t beating for anything and my passion wasn’t burning for anything, because I forgot to take care of myself. I had put academics and my grades before myself, when the real reason why I even began to seek academic success was to bring happiness to myself – I swapped my orders of priority. Looking back on it, I feel as though I was trying to seek happiness from academics because I wasn’t a happy person back then. Being an unhappy person, I looked to the wrong place to find my answer; I looked to academic success when what I really should have looked to was myself and question, “Why am I not happy? What is making me unhappy? What can I do to make me fall back in love with my life?” In the end, the only way we can be happy is by taking care of ourselves, not our GPAs.

Now, even if you’re not a desperate high school student like me, the principle of happiness applies to everyone, anyone who cannot confidently say “YES” to my question. Maybe you’re a working mother who just can’t find a way to balance between work and home; maybe you’re a middle-age business man who just doesn’t enjoy his job; and maybe you’re a senior citizen who thinks there’s nothing he can contribute to the world anymore. Regardless of what your story is, there is only one way – one way for everyone – to become happy: taking care of yourself. Do not take care of your money, job, social position, fame, or even the people around you before yourself; take care of yourself before anything else. Everyday, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Are you happy?” And if you cannot answer “YES”, follow what your heart tells you to do until you can confidently say, “YES”

Shirley MacLaine, my favorite actress of all times, said in her acceptance speech for an Oscar, “I don’t believe there’s any such thing as accidents. I think that we all manifest what we want and what we need. I don’t think there’s any difference really, between what you feel you have to do in your heart and success. They’re inseparable.”

If we follow what our heart tells us to do, success will come inevitably. And along with genuine success – not one of superficiality – happiness will come along. Yes, what we feel we have to do in our heart and success are inseparable.

After a relay of her mind-touching jokes, MacLaine said, “But in the end, let me say just one thing. Films and life are like clay. Waiting for us to mold them. And when you trust your own insides and that becomes achievement, it’s a kind of a principle that seems to me have worked with everyone. God bless that principle. God bless that potential we all have, for making anything possible if we think we deserve it.”

Anything is possible if we think we deserve it. If you think you deserve to be happy, make yourself happy. Take care of yourself so you can bring happiness to your life. And all of this can be done by simply listening to your heart.