Posts Tagged With: South Korea

Curiosity Didn’t Kill the Cat

Last night, I was riding the subway and listening to music, something that’s become a daily routine of mine while living in Busan. Traveling to and from my many different teaching jobs, I easily spend a few hours on the subway each week.

A familiar song started playing, and my immediate reaction was to skip it. But as I pushed the “skip” button on my screen, a thought appeared. Why do I always skip this song? It had come on dozens of times before, but every single time it had started playing in the past, I had skipped it then, too. This intrigued me. Is it because I don’t like it? Or is it just because that’s what I’m used to doing? As I wondered about this for a moment, though, I realized something even more interesting. I was pretty sure that I’d never, even once, listened to the entire song before.

My curiosity compelled me to return to it. I figured there must be a reason I’d written it off all this time, and I wanted to find out what it was.

I closed my eyes and settled into the warm collar of my puffy winter jacket. I had a long ride ahead of me, and now was the perfect time to rest my tired eyes.

The song, “Everything Has Changed,” began to play again, and this time, I was all ears. Blocking out the occasional screech of the subway as it ran along its tracks, and pretending there weren’t hundreds of other people sitting and standing all around me, I gave the music my full attention.

After a few bars of what turned out to be beautiful music, Taylor Swift’s unmistakable voice started singing, low and sweet. Moments later, Ed Sheeran chimed in, and the two began a beautiful duet. Eyes closed, I let the rhythm flow through me. By the time the chorus rolled around, I was tapping my foot to the beat, mesmerized by the lyrics.

What had I been thinking? All those months, I’d skipped the song without a second thought. Now, I couldn’t get enough of it. I put the song on repeat, liking it more and more each time I listened. I soon loved everything about it – the music, the lyrics, the rhythm, the way the voices of these two people came together to create something beautiful.

I guess I hadn’t actually been thinking at all. I had just been doing. I’d been clicking that “fast-forward” button with absolutely no thought involved.

I had obviously misjudged it all those times before, but I now recognized my mistake. Unlike so many songs these days, this song had meaning. It was about something real. And yet, I hadn’t even given it a chance. The only one missing out here was me (Taylor Swift probably wouldn’t care whether I ever listened to the song or not).

Realizing this made me wonder how many other things I’ve been “skipping” over lately. If I could simply overlook a great song, there was no question that I could also be overlooking much more meaningful things on a daily basis – things like people, relationships, and passions.

So, how do we avoid doing exactly what I did – judging something unfairly, and, in the process, passing up the opportunity to discover something wonderful?

We do our best to be open to new experiences as we go about our lives. The tendency to stick with what we know will always be there. So will the tendency to judge – whether it’s people, places, things, or situations we’re judging.

But when we notice these tendencies, and take the time to question them, we can learn something from them.

My lesson from this situation? Sometimes, curiosity pays off. When we act on our questions, we may be rewarded with rare, beautiful moments.

Curiosity didn’t kill the cat – it saved him from a life of boredom and missed opportunities.

Photo credit: WingedWolf (Creative Commons)

Photo credit: WingedWolf (Creative Commons)

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Sunday, I Lived

On Sunday, I tried snowboarding for the first time ever.

I’ve been skiing many times in the past, but for some reason, was always afraid to make the switch over to snowboarding. Leading up to my school field trip each year, I’d wonder the same thing: should I try something different this year? But when the trip day finally rolled around, I’d find myself thinking that I better stick to what I know. It’s safer that way. Trying to learn how to snowboard on a school trip didn’t seem like a good idea. What if I got hurt?

Now, a few years down the road, I’m learning more about what it means to “play it safe.” Here’s what I’ve come up with so far. To me, playing it safe means routine. It means being comfortable. It means familiarity. It means safety.

And these are bad things? you ask.

Of course not! Routine can be nice. Being comfortable usually feels good. When you’re familiar with your surroundings, you feel confident that you can successfully navigate your way through your daily life with (hopefully) few problems. You likely also feel safe, because you know how things work (or how they’re supposed to work), and you can adapt accordingly. But routine and familiarity also leave little room for growth, as they rarely challenge you.

Depending on how you look at it, these things can either be your best friend, or your worst enemy.

As I experience and learn more, I’m starting to view them more as enemies. The reason for this is simple: they stop me from growing. They hold me back from all the rich and unique experiences that are out there waiting for me.

Gaining new experiences isn’t always easy. Sometimes, it takes a lot of effort, time, and energy. My journey to the ski resort, for example, was an adventure of its own, and not an easy one! I had to wake up at 1:30 in the morning, take a taxi to a bus, take that bus to another bus, and then ride overnight in order to get to the resort bright and early. We arrived around 7:30 a.m., and set out for a full day on the slopes, shivering and running on very little sleep!

It was certainly a challenging day. In fact, it was exhausting. By the time I boarded the bus back to Busan, it felt like every muscle in my body was lashing out at me in attack. It was a struggle to find a way to sit comfortably for the 4.5-hour ride home.

But when I thought about sitting on that mountain with my feet in my bindings, looking at the astounding view around me, I had no regrets. I knew I had made the right choice. I had tried something new; I had lived, and it was incredible!

Life is full of adventure, for those who are open to the possibility. All we have to do is keep our eyes open, and take a chance when it arises. If you’re willing to try new things, then there are endless opportunities to do so. There are always new activities, foods, and drinks to try, new sights to see, new places, cities, and countries to visit, and new people to meet.

Next time you have the option to play it safe or go on an adventure, why not live a little?

All set to learn in my Canadian colours!

All set to learn in my Canadian colours!

Categories: South Korea, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Year’s Resolutions: useful or not?

All over the world, people tend to make a big deal out of celebrating the start of another year.

Many people see the new year as a re-birth in a way; a chance to start over, or start fresh. They see the beginning of another year as an opportunity to look at their lives, and to make goals and plans for the future. Many of us view the new year as a time to reflect as well, to look back on what the past year has brought us, and to learn from it; the mistakes we made, the lessons we learned, the things we accomplished, and the things we didn’t. All of these aspects are a part of any given year, but it’s up to us what we do with them.

For many of us, the start of a brand new year brings hope. Hope for a better future. Whatever struggles we endured during the year before, whatever pain we experienced, a new year brings hope that we will overcome the struggles and that the pain will be healed.

For others, New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day is a special time to be spent with family and friends. What better way to start off a new year than to have your loved ones by your side?

If we’re not careful, though, New Year’s Day can become little more than an excuse; a reason not to do things we need or want to do now, because we’re waiting for the new year. “It’s better to start fresh with the new year,” we tell ourselves. “Our goals or resolutions will mean more if they are officially set on New Year’s Day.” We start to see the new year as a saving grace, and wait for it to come, sometimes for months, so that we can get on with our “new” lives.

But does this really make sense? Is it really effective to wait for New Year’s Day to set New Year’s Resolutions, when we could just start working towards them now, regardless of what the date is? New Year’s Day, after all, is just another day, the same as any other. The only real difference is that it happens to be given a special name. So, while we wait for this “special” day, (for who knows how long), aren’t we really just giving up valuable time that we could be using to make progress on those resolutions?

I understand the value of setting goals and having something to work towards achieving. I also understand that people like tradition, and for many, setting New Year’s Resolutions each year is tradition. But what I don’t understand is the waiting part. What are we waiting for? As much as we like to pretend we do, the truth is we don’t have unlimited time on this Earth.

I’m realizing more and more lately that life is all about living in the moment. It’s here now, but it may be gone tomorrow.

As one of my favourite quotes says: “Life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.”

I can’t agree more. So, while you’re busy setting goals and making those plans for 2015, don’t forget to remember that in reality, all you have is this moment. The only thing you can really count on is the moment you’re in right now. So enjoy it! No one knows what tomorrow will bring, so make the most of right now.

Whether you spent New Year’s Day resting, hanging out with loved ones, making plans for the new year, setting goals to achieve this year, or reflecting on 2014, I hope you enjoyed yourself. That’s the key.

Happy New Year from Busan, everyone!

Categories: My 500 Words, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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