I have an awful habit of indulging in that ole devil feeling of nostalgia. When things in the present aren’t quite as you want, it’s easy to romanticise moments past, picturing them as bubbles of perfect happiness, when in reality they comprised their own problems, just not in the way things may be effecting you now.
Since I adventured South East Asia last year I have struggled to admit to myself that those moments are past. They are treasured memories, but memories that cannot be relived. I guess I’m envisaging the same unrealistic notion that Gatsby held. I need to take Nick’s advice, the old sport, you can’t relive the past.
Those days of living out of a rucksack, not working, not planning, not thinking about anything except which beach is next on the hit list or wondering which creative mode of transport your next going to stumble upon is not a long-term life plan. The mind and bank account require more.
This has been an awful, ‘biting your nails, picking your nose, drinking alone mid-week’ type habit that I’m trying to kick! The first step has been an acceptance of my current situation. Pre-Korea I was again romanticising this life, I envisioned a relaxed lifestyle, nestled in the countryside, not a seated toilet in sight, teaching adorable asian children with them wanting to shower me with nothing but attention, love and smiles. Well ok I don’t want to take away from the loveliness the students shower upon me, even if it is hormonal teenage love as oppose to the anticipated smiles of innocent 7 year olds, but the reality is the rest was more of a pipeline fantasy, nestled in my glorious memories of the less developed Asia I travelled. And the thoughts of only lesson planning in work hours.
‘Korea’s very westernised,’ was the common response from those I shared my news of my upcoming adventure with. A fact I heard but didn’t really listen to. It’s still Asia, I told myself. Well now I’m here, and it is still Asia, it has those lovely idiosyncratic moments common to this continent, the rice eating 3 times a day, the socially acceptable drinking on the street, the mopeds that carry families and bedroom furniture crazily through the streets. But it’s not what my mind anticipated. It’s taken almost four months for me to stop searching for what Korea isn’t and to start being excited about what it is.
So in trying to avoid driving myself further into the Wonderland akin to Gatsby’s mind, I’m training my mind to focus on the now. The reality of Korea and those aspects of life I love about this country. The people are absolute winners, both my Korean and foreign friends, (see my ode to Kyeongseon) and I feel so so lucky to have met them! Without them, my bitter, romanticising mind would have delved a lot further into the dreamworld! I also enjoy the indulgent lifestyle the generous pay packet EPIK affords me. Every weekend is a new adventure, because the money allows it! And beyond that every day in the classroom is a new challenge, eating out is a mental test and every meal is a test on my chopstick maneuvering skills…
Beyond the steel tower blocks and mobile phone obsessed locals, lies lovely mountains, generously complimentary and kind people and a hermit culture unbeknown to most outside of the nation. I need to look forward, and not back, keeping in mind Korea is pretty kool after all!
What thoughts of nostalgia carry you away from reality? Please tell me I’m not the only one…