I’ve finally moved into my new apartment! These past 2 weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions~ A bit like a cocktail of “This is it…my future starts now!” and “What the f*** am I thinking?” Many fears started to overcome my brain…and worries. I mean who knows what will happen? There are 2 outcomes ~ I succeed or I fail. I don’t even want to think about failure. Luckily there are special people around who is giving me amazing support and encouragement.
As you might have already known from my previous post, I recently travelled to Jeju Island as a volunteer worker. There I usually meet a special Ahjussi friend who I shall name Mr C. Mr C is literally everything I wanted to be before I came to Korea. Wealthy, smart, powerful, business minded, have amazing networks, but he is also the type of person who has started from the bottom and worked his way up. Because he has already experienced of what I have dreamt of before, I always like to go to him for some advice. Every time I come to Jeju he is always happy to show me the ‘other side’ of the culture. And what I mean by ‘other side’ is something that usually costs a little bit of money and the business tourism side of things. I remember he was able to call up the Koreana Hotel manager to let him know we were going to have coffee there (for free) as if it was walk in the park. Thank goodness it was free otherwise I would’ve complained as to why it costs 12 frickin’ dollars just to have Kiwi juice??? After Mr C and the Hotel Manager’s intense conversation about the hotel competition and new marketing methods (and me constantly questioning why the Kiwi juice is 12 dollars in my head) Mr C then took me to the market to choose some abalone for dinner. I remember him saying “Ken, in Jeju Island, you must experience eating 3 types of abalones: raw, roasted, and porridge”. I always seem to feel sorry that he is always spending this money on me…I mean I guess whenever people always do something for me I always seem to be sorry for taking up their time, until he swiftly told me “Why be sorry? Never be sorry. Instead, always be thankful”….seriously.take.notes.Ken.
Everytime we go somewhere to eat he tells me more about the wonders and the history of Jeju Island. Which food is in season right now, which isn’t….why you can almost never get food poisoning from sushi in Jeju unlike in mainland Korea etc. As Mr C has also worked for Samsung before, I asked… “Do you have any regrets about achieving wealth by working for a company that you didn’t really enjoy? Would you go back in time and sacrifice that wealth for the mere enjoyment of your life?” I knew it was quite a personal question, but him being someone who I have initially planned on becoming like…I had to ask. He smiled and said “Of course there are regrets”. He then talked about his family and how he wished he could’ve spent more time with them. He then talked about his friend who owns a luxury hotel in Jeju Island. He has a personal car driver and enjoys playing golf in a luxury resort which costs [enter ridiculous sum here] for just a membership. Yet he has no friends due to this and this reason which I will not mention (too long story), so he spends his life very lonely, very unhappy, and very rich.
Which then Mr C ultimately asked me what ‘wealth’ meant to me. Well, it could be money, networks, experience, your dreams, and in cliché terms friends and family…but ultimately I didn’t know what was the ‘right’ answer for myself…I was still lacking in life experiences I guess. He finally answered that during his life, he found out his family and friends were his wealth. “Money is a very small wealth compared to your family and friends…what is money??” I knew from the beginning it was ‘family and friends’, but knowing the answer in your brain doesn’t necessarily mean you KNOW it in your heart (cliché and I feel grossed out by saying that but bear with me…). It’s a bit like knowing bungee jumping without actually doing it. We all know it’s thrilling but we don’t actually KNOW because we haven’t actually experienced it ourselves yet.
With Mr C’s words I flew back home thinking about what he said, still not able to fully grasp what he meant. The following day I met my teacher Mr N. He suddenly told me how he married his wife with only 100 dollars in his bank account. What the…and knowing Korean culture, how on Earth did the in-laws let him marry their daughter with such little amount of money? Anyways he mentioned it wasn’t a problem because in the end all his friends and family around him bought furniture and necessities for him. He said he was very lucky and his family and friends are his treasures.
…and then just like that *BOOM* …IT HIT ME! These past few weeks I have been moving houses and during the process I felt really upset, alone, and vulnerable. But it was my friends that I have met in these past 2 years who helped me find a new (and amazing might I add) apartment. They also gave me a sofa bed, bought me a kettle, a desk, a chair, and much more. Even transporting goods from my old house to my new house was from a help of a friend. Without them…how much would I have spent from my unstable and fragile savings? Who would’ve been there when I felt most vulnerable and afraid? I finally realised with or without money, at times where you feel vulnerable the most (whether it being financially or in life), it will be your friends and family who gives you encouragement, support, and a solution when you have nothing left. I just suddenly felt….so so lucky. I guess it took a dramatic change in my life to realise and to finally truly and sincerely appreciate those around me.
So to those who are reading this take a time to think about those around you. What does ‘wealth’ mean to you?
OK enough cliché and cheesy sentences, it usually isn’t in my character to share these kinds of things but I felt like this was a new awakening for me, being usually very unemotional and money minded and all…but better late than never right?
SO where were these amazing photos taken? This was during the Maple Festival which is held at BaekYangSa in Jangseong, Jeollanamdo. This celebrated the change in the color of the leaves from green, to yellow, to orange, to red. Ohhh so beautiful. The architecture of the temple and the amazing backdrop of fall-colored mountains…is simply stunning. BaekYangSa is one of the most famous places to watch the Fall scene in Korea, along with Seoraksan.
On a final note: Family and friends~ I lurrrvv you.