[VIEWPOINT]The enjoyment is in the journey

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[VIEWPOINT]The enjoyment is in the journey

I took the KTX, Korea’s express train, on a trip to Busan some time ago. As I arrived in Busan in a short time of about two and a half hours, I was amazed at the convenience afforded by the development of science. But on the other hand, I felt something deeply empty. Even 10 years ago, train travel symbolized complacency in time and spiritual richness. Travelers gained a mysterious, thrilling charm and calm by relaxing comfortably, leafing through newspapers, eating in the dining car or having a glass of beer while admiring the sunset glow that unfolds outside the train window. These were moments that could not be forgotten easily.
I felt it regrettable that we might be deprived of this abundance by the convenience that speed gives.
The constant anxiousness of those accustomed to rapidness can be found in the art community too. Perfect techniques can be naturally achieved over a course of time as a result of steady efforts, but there are too many people who feel anxious to reach that level as soon as possible. Parents who expect their children to be geniuses like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who may or may not come once in a hundred years, compel them to practice without taking a rest.
This unreasonable practice at an early age can at times have an adverse effect on children’s muscles and joints and in serious cases, they can’t play the instrument any more. If the parents want their children to be genuine artists, shouldn’t they learn first the simple-mindedness of the turtle that walks slowly and steadily on the long and boring road to the goal?
During their visit to Korea, great foreign performers are said to be surprised three times to see our young music students in their early teens. Their first surprise is that the pieces of music the young children say they would like to play are difficult ones that the great performers barely began to handle when they were over 20 years old. The next surprise is that nevertheless, they play the difficult music so well. And the last is that when they are asked to, they cannot play basic pieces that are technically much easier than the difficult ones. This is the disease of our art community that resulted from hastiness.
Was it when I was in grade two? I had asked my mother persistently day and night to buy me a toy called “cow- boy double guns.” But my mother suggested conditions that I, who had a seriously unbalanced diet, should eat anything well from then on instead of being picky about this and that food and that I should practice the piano for an hour without fail before I went to school. And the term of the conditions was “as long as” a year. I have still a vivid memory of having eaten everything that I hated for a year to have the double guns and woke up early to sit before the piano, only rubbing my eyes as the time passed.
But how am I now as a father? When I buy something my two daughters want to have, the term of conditions is about a week at the longest. Sometimes, I suggest a condition, which cannot even be called a “condition,” that I will buy them if only they do my errand. When I think cool-headedly, I repent in many cases that my behavior came from the hastiness to hear the words of appreciation from my daughters rather than from the devoted love of a father. My mother did not reveal her love and was never in a hurry. I bow down to my mother’s deep love with long waiting.
Today, we lead busy lives and take such a life for granted. But how about falling into the spiritual luxury of stopping the work we have been doing even for 10 minutes a day?
Let’s listen to popular songs that shook our hearts 20 or 30 years ago over a cup of coffee. The sweetness of first love and the pain of a broken heart alike will approach us newly and beautifully along with the fragrance of those days in the name of memory. Wouldn’t our hearts, dipped in the fragrant aroma, cry out like this? “Life is worth living once indeed!”

* The writer is the president of the Seoul Arts Center. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.


by Kim Yong-bae

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