[VIEWPOINT]The season of understanding

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[VIEWPOINT]The season of understanding

As I left school, driving my car, a leaf hit the car window with a snap. At the dim sound, a thought, “Oh, it is fall,” broke out. And I had the thought that now, without my knowledge, my life was also encountering autumn. I may have been sentimental in the fall season; I could not concentrate on things, I was just surfing the Internet and I found two writings.
The man beside the window: Two men lay in the same hospital room with serious diseases. One man was allowed to sit up once in the afternoon so that fluid could be drained from his lung. His bed was beside the only window in the room. Another man had to lay in bed all day long. The man beside the window always described the scenery outside the window to the other, and the second man lived for the one hour every day that made him feel the vigor and colors of the world outside ― in the lake beyond the window, children floated paper boats and young lovers strolled through a flower garden.
One day a few weeks later, a nurse found that the man beside the window had peacefully breathed his last. The man in the other bed asked the nurse to move him to the bed beside the window. As soon as the nurse moved him and went out, he withstood the pain and got up to see the world outside the window which his friend had described. But looking out of the window, he certainly was surprised. The view was blocked by a brick wall.
He said to the nurse, “There is only a wall here. How could he see such wonderful scenery?” The nurse answered, “He was blind, so he could not see even this wall. Maybe he did that to give you some slight joy.”
The statistics of blessing: If you woke up this morning with health, it means that you are much more blessed than those 1 million people who died this week in the world. If you are not suffering from hunger, it means that you are more blessed than 500 million people in this world. If you have a house where you can avoid rain and can sleep, it means that you are more blessed that 75 percent of the people in this world. If you have a little money in the bank and in your wallet, and collected coins in a small dish somewhere, you are a rich man who is among only 8 percent of the people in this world. If you are reading this now, it means that you are more blessed than 2 billion people in this world, who cannot read. And if you can recognize all these blessings with a smiling face, you are more blessed than those who cannot.
Outside the small window in my room, an unusually blue sky and a ginkgo tree that is starting to wear a yellow crown as it prepares for winter are visible.
I suddenly had a thought. “The season of understanding” may mean the time in life when, as the ground begins to run on a downward slope, I would begin to value more the blessings that I am enjoying and try to leave even the smallest joy in this world.


by Chang Young-hee

The writer is a professor of English literature at Sogang University.
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