[OUTLOOK]Begin your heyday todayThe Korean wrestler Kim Il, commonly known as “Kimiri,” passed away this week at the age of 77. In 1967, he had become champion of the heavy weight class at the World Wrestling Association. From then until the late 1970s, he was known as a master head-butter, helping his audience relax from the stress of life. He had a 15-year heyday.
If we assume a life lasts for 60 minutes, most people can run at full speed for less than 10 minutes, although the duration may vary from person to person. That less than 10 minutes is our heyday.
Kimiri had only some of his 10 minutes of heyday, if his life had lasted 60 minutes.
The legendary anchorman Pong Du-wan, now working at a Buddhist radio station, is 71 years old. He has said that he worked as a reporter, a politician and a professor, but that his heyday was when he worked as an anchorman at the Tongyang Broadcasting Company.
To be more precise, that was from 1969 until 1980, when the company was closed down by the military dictatorship under the pretext of streamlining and restructuring of the media industry. Of the 70 years of Mr. Pong’s life, his heyday lasted 11 years, so he also had his best time of less than 10 minutes in a 60-minute life.
Kim Sung-jin served as a Blue House spokesman and culture minister when President Park Chung Hee was in office. In his autobiography, Mr. Kim wrote that the nine years he served as the “mouth of President Park” was the prime time of his life.
Mr. Kim was born in 1931, so turned 75 this year. In a 60-minute life, his heyday was also less than 10 minutes.
A heyday does not necessarily mean the time during which one makes a fortune, gets promotions, or becomes an object of jealousy and envy for others. The true meaning of one’s heyday is the period when one realizes precisely for what he or she lives for.
Master head-butter Kim Il, in the ring, used to start out losing then win a come-from-behind victory with one big head-butt. His head-butt was a symbol of a last hidden card and gave hope that people could change their destinies for the better in times of hardship. To give people such hope was the reason he wrestled and in a sense, also what he lived for.
Mr. Pong opened his mouth when others closed theirs, quenching our thirst for truth during the military dictatorship. That was also the reason for his work and the meaning of his life.
People are programmed by instinct to run at full speed toward a heyday in their life. After passing that heyday, life loses its speed and energy.
It was the same with master head-butter Kimiri. He used to do murderous head-butts with his 140 kilograms of weight and 184 centimeters of height. But in 1989, he lost consciousness because of high blood pressure and had to stay in hospital for nearly 20 years.
This story reminds me of the beginning of the book "The Time of Your Life" by John Burningham. The passage says that the day will come when God’s voice will reverberate like thunder, saying from today on, you will not even put on your socks on your own.
Conversely, the prime time of your life is more precious because you know for sure that such final days will come. Even if your life lasts for only 10 minutes, or just 5 out of 60 minutes, you never forget or let go of your heyday.
Many people underrate themselves, saying that the expression "heyday" sounds silly when looking at their present lives and situations.
Let’s remember, however, that everybody has his or her heyday. Let’s promise ourselves, “I will make this very moment my most precious heyday.” From the moment we make that resolution, a new heyday of our life will begin.
* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Chung Jin-hong