Wednesday, November 7, 2007
this one is brief and notes-style (mostly)
so i went on a catholic retreat this past weekend here in cheongju at the suggestion of a family friend who happens to be working/living in cheongju. seeing how the last church retreat i went on was my senior spring of high school and i was the retreat leader and it was mostly a stressful (yet rewarding) experience from the giving end and not the receiving end, i thought i'd give it a shot. plus his suggestion was that i go light-heartedly (i have been 냉담ing-on a break from church) and just go to make friends so i was like, ok why not? this'll be an interesting korean cultural immersion experience.
cultural mishap #1: after dinner friday i went downstairs to the big meeting room and no one was there ... where was everyone? ... brushing their teeth
saturday: first day in LIFE i brushed my teeth after every meal
before college the only koreans i knew were catholics. im attributing some of my comfort level this weekend to. i actually didnt really know that (most) koreans were just christian and not catholic until college. and that was a mind boggling discovery. i also realized (sorry) that i relate (usually) to catholic koreans better than christian or non-religious ones in general. we grew up with a lot in common, ykno. so i was pretty comfortable in this familiar atmosphere at first. if you think aobut it, the ONLY korean exposure i ahd outside of my family for the first 18+ years of my life was korean catholic church/churchpeople. (i grew up in an irish/italian/jewish town/area of NJ)
are my korean skills improving? or do i just know "church" korean? 1/2 of my life korean was in church. i got along just fine. i was a bit surprised. i thought i'd have a little more trouble being thrown into a 100% korean situation. but YAY i survived.
my perspective against K(organics) is bias/discrimination: i keep can't help but think that all koreans are just characterized by shallowness and closed mindedness and selfishness. it's horrible. i really dont like that view and thus have not really liked koreans (esp. girls) to this point. this wknd gave me a view at a very different DEMOGRAPHIC than the one i usually get to see (like when we "go out" it's just the stuipd shallow crowd). i think this was very impt.
i was really (and i mean REALLY) nervous going in. i was actually pleading/asking/begging my family friend (who drove me there) to take me home bc i was so nervous. but then i realized i have yet to encounter a situation i couldn't handle (in korea AND in life)-and this thought gave me 용기!!!! *^^*
lately - i feel like i keep being thrown into a situation and i just want to cry but don't/can't and power through and ykno what? i survive. which has been a very comforting thought of late. its one of theo nly things tha really keep me going. the knowledge tha i CAN do it even when i FEEL like i can't.
ok, to be honest again. i've been running away from religion for the last 2 years. i feel like religion forces things to be laid bare - it necessarily requires taking down "walls", and really letting ppl care about you. i've been super unwittingly independent. i thought i've been so DEpendent but really i've been rejecting everyone/everything/sympaty/empathy. i had a series of shallowesque involvements (w/boys not my friends-those are for real!!!) bc i haven't been able to let go/let my guard down. it's ridiculous that i'm still afraid to let anyone into my life/get close to me in a romantic sense. i hadnt really thought about "IT" for over a year seriously bc i thought it was all over. but on some level there's a part of the 상처 (hurt/scar) i've been holding on to. and i thought about it a lot this wknd (see below) and i have to just let it go. even after i thought i already had. NOT thinking aobut it doesn't mean i've let it go. another thing w/not wanting to let my guard down was my fear that i might all just fall apart(my precarious control).
things i learned this weekend:
*going to church bc of friends is never a bad a reason: i think it's true- my expeirence has been that meeting friends i;ve made through church after so long w/nothing else in common has been so amazing. we act so close like family even when the only thing we've everdone/seen each other before was a few times at church or something. iverealized this coming to college and then korea. the ppl ive meet thru church have been so ready and open to help me out and we jus pick up where we left off and there isnt awkwardness or anything.
*when catholics date, there must be prayer (an interesting thought-i must be maturing haha)
*"let's love others but not become stalkers" - this was just funny - and a direct quote
*"couple walk" - there waas this activity where you have to hold ur partners hand and you cant let go until lunch time (45 minutes until lunch) and you get a question to discuss: we "randomly" got "have you ever forgiven someone who really betrayed/hurt you?" wow. my first thoughtwas yes. and although we ended up talking aboutsomething completely unrelated it got me thinking about the sich again - about how i made one of the hardest (altho most obvious) decisions in my life to forgive someone instead of press charges. and that got me started on how impt forgiveness is and how sometimes ppl just need a chance at redemption. and also about undrestanding other ppl's situations and their life background and all that ... not just seeing myself as a victim but as the other as a victim of their situation/conditions. it was empowering to change my perspective and also to see myself as able to make my own decisions rather than ahving everything set in a course that icouldn't change.
*when you reflect on unhappiness (instead of just dwelling in it) ... it turns into "why didn't i do more?" and you realize that ur unhappiness is often your own fault/doing. there is always soemthing you yourself can do to improve yoursituation. and sometimes all you need is to realize/remember that (this attitude has been helping me lately)
*we all have our baggage. i was amazed (as usual) at the ridiculous things all these other ppl ahd overcome and dealt with and how bright and happy and willing to GIVE they were given how much had been TAKEN or denied them bythe world. an d it made me realize how selfish and childish ive been and how 마음 좁아 i've been. it's time for me to start giving back - this has always been when i'm happiest. woohoo. hehe.
light conclusion: names of korean snacks are all in english and ridiculous: polly polly, big pie, crown sand, chi choc, oh yes, and cuckoodoo.