Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cold Snap Out of It

The book "The Long Walk" was one that had a profound affect on my life. My mother read it to us when I was about 4 or 5, when our family of four lived in a 10 x 12 cabin an 8 mile walk from town.

Every night after dinner - during the long winter nights - she sat by the barrel stove, lantern glowing beside her, and read us stories of survival. Outside the temps hung around -20 and the snow was higher than our home. The stories made that little space seem like a castle as I snuggled up to my mum's knee.

In "The Long Walk" I found a thousand steps I didn't know I had, and when my mom and I struggled home from town sometimes, our bodies sinking up to our waists as we fought to pull our bodies through the snow, exhaustion and cold sucking away at our bodies, fear tugging at our hearts - she would lean down and remind me how luckily we were to have such an easy journey, not like those poor folks in "The Long Walk" and I would know we could make it.

Now, I look back and I wonder if she read those stories for us or for herself. I can't imagine the fear she must have felt when she saw us giving up. When my brother and my steps slowed and she knew she couldn't carry us both home.

As a new person in a new land it can be easy to convince oneself that you are persecuted or that your life is hard.  Everyday you must learn and adapt and it can feel like a wall you can't climb.  However, for those of us living in Korea teaching English - even if our apartments are the worst, our bosses most difficult, or our lives isolated - these are not struggles but a privilege.  This is no long walk.

Which is why, when my day is harder than I like, or my attitude turns sour, I whisper to myself, "How lucky am I that my journey is so easy?" And I take that next step forward toward making this life my home.

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