Learning how to live in the moment
I live in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi. A few years ago, I would only visit my small home on weekends, but after I got stuck here in a snowstorm last winter, I resolved to move permanently. Every morning, I wake up to the chirping sound of birds, and at night, frogs sing me lullabies. I enjoy country living, picking mulberries, writing articles, growing vegetables and reading books.
My friends in the city are curious about my life in the countryside and come to visit often. One of my friends is especially envious of my country living. When I met her at an art exhibition, she said that she would start painting once her youngest daughter goes to college. However, she did not break out of her routine and start anything new. She is always envious, as if it is a habit to feel this way. This time, she said that once her daughter graduates from college and gets married, she will move to the country.
But I’m not sure I believe her. She is not financially constrained, but she still sticks to her routine. In a few years, she might resolve, “I will move once my granddaughter goes to school.” Her own priorities seem to be pushed aside for her family.
Her situation makes me think about George Bernard Shaw’s epitaph, which reads: “I knew if I stayed around long enough, something like this would happen.”
The Irish playwright and critic wrote many satiric and humorous plays and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925. Obviously, he lived his life to the fullest, but still had regrets. So average people like my friend and myself are sure to have regrets, too, but we can still try to minimize them.
Whenever you are about to start something you want to do or have always dreamed of, there are always reasons not to begin right away. “When my daughter goes to college,” “When she gets married” and “When my granddaughter grows up” are only some examples. These ideas are especially hard to overcome when your aspirations may not be viewed as particularly useful by others. But for the sake of our happiness, we should never put off until tomorrow what we want to do today. Let’s promise to be generous, too. Otherwise, we will only have regrets to take with us to our graves.
*The author is a guest columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Eom Eul-soon