Distance

It’s usually easy for me to talk to people … but with age gaps, and other gaps (differences in background, upbringing, job title, etc) … it becomes even harder for me to be able to connect strongly with people.

I usually have always found that conversing with older adults is easier … most likely due to them having less egos and developed mental/emotional maturity (on average) than younger folks …

But if I were to want to become somebody who can offer value to the world, I do want to improve on that ability to close that gap. Are we that different after all … or can we bond over that shared pain, shared vulnerabilities … shared humanity?

It is weird. When I was a kid, I offered up my most vulnerable stories on the internet to share with the Korean people. Some of them really loved it. But after becoming an adult, I almost naturally gravitated toward just “PR”ing myself … that we need to crowd the shared space with “me me me” to try to win respect among everybody.

It works to a certain extent. If you never ever demonstrated your “good qualities” and things that make you different, then that’s definitely unfair. But that alone … i feel … is not enough to develop strong bonds with people. It’s much stronger and truer … to share pain with people honestly, without judgment and in a supported environment. To share pleasure with people is temporary and goes away easily because people can usually find alternatives elsewhere. But shared pain. shared frustrations. shared tears. That really is rare and special.

Perhaps I’ve been doing it all wrong.

Is it possible for me to be vulnerable again? I am afraid of being judged. But If I were always afraid … i would never accomplish anything. Memento mori. I will be judged, but doing it in spite of it … perhaps … is the right path.

스물 네 살에 먹었던 렌즈콩 스프

대학교를 졸업하고 2년정도 되었을까. 사회 초년생이었던 스물 네 살의 나는 사표를 내고 집에서 뛰쳐나와 뉴욕 맨하튼의 한복판으로 이사를 간 시절이 있었다. 지금 생각해보면 현실도피와 막무가내의 반반이었다. 전혀 장래에 대한 생각이 없이 그저 회사의 지루한 직장생활이 너무 싫어서 다 때려치우고 뛰쳐나왔다. 사무실에서 앉아 있으면 혼자 컴퓨터 모니터를 쳐다보며 ‘나 여기 있기 싫어’, ‘내가 왜 여기에 있어야 돼나’ 하면서 머리 속에서 내 인생을 욕하고 있었다. 4년동안 경영학 공부해서 겨우 취업이 된 회사의 일자리를 그렇게 포기해 버린 것은 지금 생각해보면 미성숙한 선택이었지만 그때는 아주 내 자신이 영특하고 용감하다고 생각했었다. 

그래도 1년정도 저축해 두었던 월급이 있었으니 그걸로 먹고 살고 월세도 내면 어떻게든 살 수는 있을 것 같았다. 일자리가 없는 대신 웨이터 아르바이트 라도 하면서 푼돈이라도 벌고 남은 시간에 스탠드업 코미디를 연습해서 미국 예능계에 도전해보려고 마음먹고 있었다. 그게 어렸을 적 나의 터무니 없는 작전이었다. 그래도 내 꿈이었기에 도전했다. 

스탠드업 코미디는 즐겁고 보람 있지만 전혀 돈이 되지 않는 예술이다. 인터넷에서 찾아보면 3-4년안에 크게 성공해서 글로벌 스타가 되는 미국 코미디언들의 이야기들이 있는데 현실은 그렇게 심플하거나 쉽지 않다. 오늘날도 밤만 되면 맨하탄의 텅텅 빈 코미디 클럽을 떠돌며 4-5명의 관객앞에서 “5분 공연” 을 하는 불쌍한 ‘코미디언 지망생(aspiring comedians)’ 들이 있다. 20대 초반부터 50대 후반까지 연령대가 다양한데 그 숫자는 아마 맨하탄만 쳐도 3000명은 넘을 것이다. 나도 그중의 하나가 되었다. 매일매일 무대위에서 노력해봐도 유명해지기는 커녕 한 두명이 웃을까 말까, 욕이나 안 먹는게 다행이었다. 

저금해둔 돈은 1년도 안돼서 쏜살같이 사라졌다. 아르바이트 하던 곳은 꽤나 고급인 모던 한식 레스토랑이었는데 하도 오너와 웨이터 선배들에게 구박을 받고 욕을 먹어서 몇 개월 안돼서 또 뛰쳐나왔다 (이것이 나의 패턴이었다).  그것도 그런게 나는 아르바이트를 별로 해본 적이 없어서 웨이터로 일하면 뭔가가 재미있고 사무실과 다르게 사람들과 소통하며 더 활발할 줄 알았다. 활발은 개뿔. 팁으로 먹고 사는 웨이터들의 서비스 직업은 사무실보다 훨씬 더 조심해야 되고 실수하기가 쉬웠다. 접시를 떨어뜨리고 음식 오더 잘못 입력하고 손님들과 키친 스태프 사이에서 쌍방으로 구박받고 정말 펑펑 울면서 그만두었다. 우습게도 사무실에서 앉아있던 시절이 그리웠다. 

때는 2012년 12월. 입김이 보이도록 춥고 하얀 눈의 흔적이 길거리에 남아있었던 겨울 저녁이었다. 백수가 된 나는 처량하게 공원을 걷고 있었다. 그래도 “뉴요커” 라는 체면은 있었기에 겉멋은 들어가지고 이사 직후에 산 비싼 가죽 크로스백에 아르마니 익스체인지의 청색 자켓을 입고 다녔던게 생각난다. 브라이언트 파크 공원의 한복판에서 행사를 하고있었다. 길거리 상인들이 각자 자리를 잡고 핫도그나 할랄 푸드등의 음식을 팔고 있었는데 냄새가 좋아서 그 쪽으로 걸어갔던게 생각난다. 브라이언트 파크의 길거리 음식점은 유난히 비싸고 외국인 관광객들 등쳐먹기로 유명해서 쥐똥만한 에피타이저 하나에 7-8불 정도는 된다. 전혀 살 생각은 없었지만 그래도 구경이라도 하려고 심심풀이로 걸어 다녔다. 

중동 음식점이 하나 있었다. 40대 정도 되어보아는 중동인 아저씨가 렌즈콩 스프를 커다란 냄비 안에 끓이고 있었다. 냄새가 좋았다. 호기심 있는 얼굴로 그 음식점을 잠시 맴돌고 구경하고 있으니 그 아저씨가 손으로 “Come” 하고 제스처를 했다. 

“죄송한데 진짜 돈 없는데요. (Sorry, I really don’t have money)” 라고 말했다. 

“됬어. (it’s fine)” 하고 아저씨가 종이컵 안에다가 스프를 듬뿍 넣어서 건내주었다.

그냥 친절한 사람이었는지 내가 불쌍해 보였는지는 아직도 잘 모르겠다. 솔직히 말해서 그 행사 자체에 손님이 많이 없었다. 남은 스프를 그냥 어떻게 처분하려고 나한테 좀 나눠주었던 것일 수도 있다. 근데 지금 생각해보면 정말 눈물이 펑펑 나올 정도로 고마웠다. 나는 그 때 사랑과 관심에 굶주려 있었던 가보다. 하고 싶은 코미디는 전혀 풀리지도 않고 직장도 그만두고 한두달의 월세를 낼 수있 는 능력도 없어 정말 갈 길이 막막하고 내 자신이 한심하고 초라했던 시절이었다. 물론 그 아랍인 아저씨는 그런 내 사정을 알 턱이 없었다. 

그래도 그 때의 따뜻한 렌즈콩 스프의 맛은 잊을 수가 없다. 익숙지 않았던 중동음식의 향기가 새로웠다. 색깔은 카레처럼 갈색과 노랑색의 조합이었다. 내가 맛있게 스프를 흡입하고 있으니까 아저씨가 작은 미소와 함께 말했다.

“이슬람교 에서는 궁핍한 사람은 도우라고 그러거든? (In Islam, we say, give freely to the needy.)” 

내가 하도 궁핍해 보였나 보다. 

어렸을 때 실수투성이였고 욕심만 많고 미성숙했던 나. 

생각해보면 이런 낯선 사람의 친절도 나를 구원해주는 하나의 이유가 아니었나 싶다. 

New York City and 10 years.

Sometimes when you look back to your younger self, it’s almost like watching a movie character or an animated character walking back and forth on the screen. It doesn’t feel real. And so different from who you are now.

I lived and worked in New York City since end of 2012. I moved into my godfather’s FiDi high-rise at a reduced rent. It still was quite expensive relatively speaking. About $1300-$1400. But it was doable. I remember many of my friends visiting and being semi-jealous that I was living in such a nice place. It was just a temporary luxury though. Less than one year, I would not be able to afford the rent and decide to move out into Elmhurst, Queens and try to stand on my own two feet, living in a much smaller place. Boy, those were the days … and I mean those were some of the roughest years of my life between 2013 to 2015.

I had just quit my day-job as a marketing grunt after one year. I was determined to become a famous stand-up comedian. I was 23 going on 24 at the time. Now I look back, it’s literally been 10 years.

Was it all a lie? Just an illusion? No, there are certain things that are not lies about New York City. The fact that you CAN “make it” there is not a lie. It’s just incredibly tough. The fact that there’s opportunities abound here is not a lie. There’s very accomplished people, impressive individuals, “made” people living and working there, that’s not a lie either. The fact that you can learn new things, and be exposed to the cutting edge, new ideas … that’s not a lie either.

But is it full of wannabes, liars, vultures and thieves? Sure, more than anywhere else. A veteran stand-up comedian friend Ashley Gavin once told me that there’s so many people in the entertainment industry just trying to take advantage of young, aspiring comics and actors and just sucking them dry in terms of money, time, labor, etc while baiting them with hopes and dreams of becoming a success. It does attract … a certain kind of people, attracted to the glamour.

But I don’t want to live based on appearances anymore. In life, there’s things more beautiful than just appearances. More important than appearances. The truth is really out there. And when it’s dolled up with fancy lights like in New York City, it’s hard not to get distracted by the bright lights, and miss the truth.

What do I want from life now?

serenity.

spirituality.

loving kindness.

forgiveness.

genuine, deep relationships.

self-love.

abundance.

time and place to meditate and think.

to be one with nature.

to get closer to God.

those things … are most likely much easier outside of the busy hustle and bustle of New York City.

Becoming a “valuable” person

That is the name of the game in this life … at least for me.

I’ve always wondered what that was. But it seems that it’s not just doing whatever comes easy, or whatever I want to be doing … in a way, yes, to be doing something INSPIRING you … but the ultimate focus … should be something even greater than that … in my life purpose.

For example, there’s different brains out there in the world. If you stay the same as everyone else, and what comes naturally to a large group of people including you, then there’s no way to differentiate yourself, stand out and/or offer unique value. You become the same. The norm, the status quo. That’s not good for everybody, but especially for society and humanity.


But to DARE to be unique, to be the next level of human evolution, that is aligned with we are all responsible for … to move and drive human society forward.


That’s why we need people who break out of the mold, and need to INSPIRE MORE to do so, not be AFRAID to express themselves. (women, as gatekeepers of life and evolution are more sensitive to that than anyone, and I learn more from them than anyone, the way they react, receive and perceive genetic expression) Ultimately, we might have been all looking for the kinds of people that break out and excel at whatever genetic expression it is demonstrating. The best athletes, artists, writers, businessmen, scientists, academics … they are doing that in one physical form, artistic form or creative form in one way or the other.


That may be why “standing out” and “not standing out” is literally a life or death matter. and the act of taking on and challenging yourself to things that others (80-90% of your peers/contemporaries) have trouble accomplishing is the destiny of the One who drives evolution forward.


It is the one who blocks out distractions, emotional struggles, and social struggles, to focus on the realization and actualization of his/her greatest genetic expression … that will be the light of hope for the rest of humanity. And the One we must aspire to be.

오늘의 바둑 교훈

처음에 이길 것같다가 실수를 해서 큰 코를 다쳤다. 백이였는데 …
삼삼으로 침투 … 그러다가 그 침투진이 전부 잡혔다. 젊은 20대에 내 인생을 망치는 것처럼 …


하지만 마지막까지 포기하지 않았다. 그리고 나머지의 모든 기회들을 살리고 싸워서 기다렸다. 


그랬더니 왠일인가. 상대방이 실수를 남발했다. 나한테는 보이는데 상태방이 전혀 볼수없는 쉬운 돌들이 나왔다. 그 기회에 적의 큰 진에 침투하니 그 진의 모든 돌들이 한꺼번에 다 죽었다. 처음에 내 실수로 죽었던 수의 3-4배는 더 큰 이익이었다. 
아주 큰 승리였다. 
🙂


당신의 인생이 죽고 모든 것이 희망없어 보일때 …포기하지 않고 살아 나간다면 … 반드시 … 해결책 … 구원이 … 기적이 일어난다.
끝까지 포기하지 않기. 모든 승부에서 😉 직장에서. 연애에서.경쟁에서. 운명에서. 꿈의 실현에서.

advice

Sooner or later, we all die.

As I watch my own parents get older and more frail, it hits me too. The people I used to know are older now. The older mentors I used to look up to as well. It would be so sad when they are gone permanently. It’s also a bit sad because I wanted those mentors to see me become super successful career-wise or wealthy or whatever. I’m nowhere as near as that lol. But I guess I can’t be too greedy.

I had a couple incidents recently where people younger than me seemed a little jealous or competitive with me. It’s of course common to see people like that. In general, younger people tend to be less secure in themselves and so their ability to control and observe their ego is a bit less trained. So they have something to prove. So they pick fights.

It’s a bit bittersweet for me. I know I’m not old/wise enough to impart a lot of wisdom for those younger people and yet I’m not young enough to be a “new kid on the block”, same as the other young kids.

If I have anything to say … I guess it is to lead by example. Sometimes with kindness and gentleness. Sometimes with sternness and discipline. But mostly, to show through action the kind of person that I am. All the words and smiles in the world cannot win popularity, at least not permanently. To really win the respect of others around you and to have them on your side, I think I really do need to do more than what I’ve been doing … more than just being a nice guy. I need to go and do hard things that most people are not doing. I need to go and learn hard things that most people will have trouble learning, definitely things that I will have trouble learning. I need to go and challenge myself to things that I have never done before.

Otherwise, I will get left behind like a useless outdated old scrap! lol

모두와 친구를 하고 싶지만 그렇게 쉽지는 않네요. 일은 역시 사적인 우정과는 다른 것 같습니다. 약육강식의 법칙인가요? 인생, 직업 … 모두 결국에는 치열한 경쟁인가요? 우리의 인간사회란 힘든 것 같습니다. 이 경쟁에서 지는 사람들은 낙오자 취급받고 돈을 덜 벌고. 이 경쟁에서 이기는 사람만에게 큰 명예와 권력과 행복이 있는 걸까요?

싸움에서 질 생각은 없지만 … 인생이 싸움의 연속이라는 것이 피곤하기도 합니다. 우리는 싸우기 위해서 태어난 것일까요?

Dear Kobe

코비! 1년 반 밖에 양육하지 못해서 미안하구낭 ㅜㅠ

많이 사랑했단다. 지금은 아직 많이 슬프구나.

고맙다. 앞으로는 장난끼와 에너지 많은 너랑 뛰놀면서 항상 같이 있어주는 가족옆에서 자라도록 기도할게.

마이 베스트 프렌드!!

The Story of the Gentle Bear

Once upon a time in a mountain, lived a gentle bear. He was full of love and wished the best for all of God’s animals. The Bear didn’t have any family of his own but was strong, hard-working and generosity. The gentle bear was giving and always sharing his fish with other animals. A vulture and a fox ate together with the bear as he brought them all kinds of fishes. But the vulture and the fox kept wanting more and more and got greedy. 

The cunning vulture one day said to the bear, 

“Bear, I know the secret to becoming human that only takes two years. I will teach you how to become human if you give me a fish everyday for next three months.” 

The bear listened and brought the vulture a fish everyday for three months. The vulture ate happily all this free food. But the vulture, at the end of the three months, it demanded even more. 

“If you now give me three fishes a day, I will teach you how to become a human in six months.” 

The bear had heard enough. 

‘I imagine this bird will keep lying to until I feed him the entire ocean.’ 

 It smiled at the bird and said to himself, 

“That’s the way that God designed vultures. I cannot change his cunning nature but I showed him the best kindness I can. And I learned my lesson not to trust vultures. And that is enough.” 

And the gentle Bear went on his way. 

For the next few months, the vulture tricked other animals into doing hard work and lied to them in order to get food and pick up the scraps. But the next time the vulture tried to trick a large animal, he wasn’t so lucky. It was a Panther. When the Panther realized that he had been tricked by the vulture’s lies, it became angry. 

“How dare you trick me! I’m one of the fiercest creatures in the jungle. I will teach you a lesson.” 

The Panther bit the vulture by the throat and killed him instantly for breakfast. 

The Fox wanted to trick the gentle Bear as well. The fox used his cute children to get the Bear’s attention. 

“Oh, gentle Bear, I have these six little fox babies to feed but I’ve hurt my leg and cannot hunt. We are hungry, cold and weak. Please share your fishes with us every day for next few weeks.”

The Fox was actually unharmed and capable of hunting but lying to the Bear. But the Bear felt sympathy for the family. The Fox’s children had big eyes and said hello to the Bear whenever He came near. The Bear brought them a fish for every single member of the family every day for months. They ate joyously. After this, the Fox said.

“Oh, gentle Bear. Thank you. Now keep doing this and I will help you. I am smart and have the respect of other big cats, even panthers and tigers. I will help you someday become the king of the mountain but for now, keep feeding us. Keep feeding my babies until they become big and strong. Keep feeding us for the whole next year.”

But the Bear was not stupid. He knew that if he had kept on working and feeding the fishes to the Fox and his family instead of feeding himself for an entire year, he would surely exhaust or starve himself. The Bear saw through the Fox’s greedy nature. 

“Oh Fox. I’ve shown you the best kindness I could show, but you still demand more from me. Your needs have no limits. I cannot help anymore. I am too exhausted.”

The Bear then said his goodbyes to the Fox and his children and left. The Fox and its children looked at the Bear with disappointed eyes but the Bear knew that he had to leave them or they would keep taking advantage of his gentle nature.

“I cannot give more kindness than I can afford. I must take care of myself as much as I take care of others. Or others will keep taking from me without leaving anything for my own,” the gentle Bear realized.

A few weeks later, a severe drought hit the mountain. There was no water for days and scarcely any food to be found. Because the thieving Fox had depended on the Bear for food, it had forgotten how to hunt properly and not saved up anything for emergencies. The fox and its children became thin and weak. When a hungry Panther walked by them, they became easy meals for the Panther’s breakfast.

“A bunch of small fox children and their good-for-nothing Dad. I guess it’s better than eating nothing,” the Panther muttered to himself after his meal.

The gentle bear was starving too during the drought and fainted from tiredness in the middle of the mountain. He was thin and weak.

“Oh, I guess this is the end for me,” the Bear said.

“At least I loved everybody as much as I can. Although my friends tricked me, I’ve lived helping friends in need. I regret nothing. I can die happily.”

The Bear was on the ground panting his last breaths.

That is when he heard the light steps of a human. It was a young woman with long black hair dressed in a white robe and wearing a silver necklace and shiny earrings. She was carrying a satchel and hiking in sandals. Soon behind her, a group of servants came running after her. 

“Please be careful, princess. There are wild animals and bears and panthers in these mountains.” 

The Bear looked up and saw the face of the woman brimming with curiosity and wonder. The Bear licked her hand as she reached down her fingers towards his face. She felt unafraid and smiled at him.

“What an amazing nice bear. I feel bad for him, he is about to die. Let’s bring him food and water.”

The princess asked her servants to bring a huge palanquin that could put the gentle bear inside. When the group made it back to the village with the palanquin, all of the village folks gasped and shouted in wonder and excitement to see a large bear gently and calmly sitting inside a large palanquin for humans. When the Bear arrived at a huge palace garden, the servants laid out fishes, grasses, berries and insects for the Bear for a feast. The Bear gobbled up the feast while the Princess smiled besides him and watched him in delight. 

And the Gentle Bear and the Princess became best friends for 10 years to come. When the Bear became old and frail, the Bear died peacefully in his sleep in the Princess’s arms. People all cried for him.

“Let’s remembered him as the hero, the gentle protector of the mountain,” the Princess declared while wiping her eyes. 

Right church

I’ve always thought this about churches but it’s a peculiar organization filled with … profit-motive and also other motives. It’s very interesting to look deeper into what motivates people to do things the way they do there. Some people go to church to look for spiritual guidance. Some to find company to relieve their loneliness. Some to find meaning. It seems like they use a variety of techniques to get people to pay up money and supporting churches. ‘Feigning a certain type of brand image’ seems to be one of them. To pretend like they are doing a lot for the community … might be an example as well.


[5:54 PM]I have always been disappointed. It never had to be that way. Whether it’s a cult that extorts money from people promising them some spiritual awakening, or even corrupt christian churches, the leaders of those organizations seem to care very little for the followers and the people in pain who actually need help. instead, they make a living off of taking advantage of those people, convincing them A is right, or they need to do B. Or even worse, they might even pretend to be “spiritual authority” … and then just fool people into following them as spiritual leaders.


At an ideal church, or just a group that helps each other … there would be no donation necessary or money-motive whatsoever. Almost like a free-forming “meetup” group that’s open to everyone, we could just come together from all walks of life and celebrate God, spirituality, values and morality and how to strengthen ourselves spiritually.

I guess that’s too much to ask in today’s day and age of money-hungry people.

I pray that God gives us true guidance, the wisdom to tell apart the corrupted from the innocent. So that next generations will be wiser than the one currently living now. We need true churches that cares about its brothers and sisters.