Living through 2016

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It seems like it was mere moments ago when I greeted the year of 2015 and mulled over how to spend the New Year most fruitfully – but apparently the New Year’s already returned for 2016. Indeed, how best to spend this New Year which has returned just as the sun never fails to rise? Nobody has asked me the question, but like a student who must produce an answer within time provided, I mull over the same question for a different answer.

Nowadays, I no longer make any numbered list of plans or resolutions, nor do I sum things up to few categories of things to do. If there is just one thing I can do, it is to be grateful for every living moment. Is it evidence of all the time past, that giving thanks for, and having lived to greet another year seems like the one and only answer to me? Looking back, not a lot of the things that were accomplished last year were because I resolved to do it. I simply welcomed most of the things that happened during those times, and moved on past them. Now that more time has been granted again, I’m just grateful. In retrospect, there were many things to be thankful for in the past year – no, nothing but things to be grateful for.

Among those things, I am deeply pleased about the fact that the family was able to come together and travel for the end of the year. Once you’re in a shared space, sharing conversation and food, laughter spreads between people like a virus. Although our family has five members, we’ve grown last year and added a sixth member. Back then, I couldn’t have possibly guessed that expanding the family would be such a nice, joyous thing. I’ve come to realize that anyone can guess if something will be good or bad, but there’s no knowing or understanding just how good or bad it’d be without actually having experienced it. The journey to the unknown with this new family member itself is great excitement and joy.

The world has become a place where a coming of age, finding a lover, tying the knots and forming a family is no longer the common progression. I lived my life believing that it is the parents’ duty to trust and believe in the child’s decision, no matter what. I’m so grateful for my son who decided to marry, and the woman he loves is every ounce as lovable and precious to me as well. I’m thankful for my daughter in law who is now part of the family, and for my son who expanded our family. I’m not really a ‘more is better’ type of person, but now that our family’s grown, my heart has been enriched and things like petty little plans appear vain.

When the whole family gathers at the end of the year to watch the sun set and then rise again through the darkness, it isn’t merely to enjoy the view, but to cherish its warmth in our heart. When our gazes and hearts grow cold, we can look back on the sun – not to remember the view, but to remember the feeling of family and love.

The members of our family live so far and spread apart. Just trying to get together once a year is an endeavor. To congregate, we must leave our homes a full day beforehand and must go through many transfer from both air to ground before we can feel each other’s’ warm embrace. Thus these group excursions are even more precious, and each try their best to congregate. That doesn’t mean that the goodbyes are necessarily sad. No, perhaps we’ve grown accustomed to saying our goodbyes. It’s obvious to us that our lives are a repetition of hellos and goodbyes, so we congregate heartily, and part ways heartily.

This New Year, too, our family is each spreading our love from our respective locations, looking forward to the next three, two, perhaps the only time we may gather This new year, if we can continue to feel grateful for each moment we draw breath, and can come together in one place again, we’ll greet the rest of the coming year with greater satisfaction.

Marie Hong/Editor in Chief

Translation: Jung In Kim