Saturday, November 24, 2007

First Snow

A few days ago, it was so bright out at 6 am that I thought I has slept through my alarm. It was snowing and had been snowing throughout the night. I love that feeling of excitement and surprise that I find with each first snowfall of the year. On our morning walk, Peanut started walking around with her mouth open like a snow plow, then it got stuck in her nose, which made her very angry.

That same night, I talked to my friend out in San Francisco. I told him that it was snowing. When he was growing up near Salt Lake City, he had a big window that looked out into the yard. Jeremy and his brother often peered out this window in anticipation of how much snow would fall that evening. I too had a window like this one. When I was growing up in Maryland, my cousin, Hae Jung, and I would gaze out the open window while standing on my bed. Our upper bodies would be dressed in winter gear complete with scarves, hats, and mittens over our pajamas. Tasting the new snow and trying to catch it with our tongue, we would laugh quietly so as not to get caught. Jeremy told me that the sense of anticipation is what fills you with wonder and hope.

Children make magic out of snow. Tristan made this snow frog last year. How many windows have caught the eyes of little children looking out beyond the glass to the snow? I am sure it is countless. Snow is a reminder that beauty can appear out of a familiar landscape. That the same roads and sidewalks we navigate on a daily basis with confidence and complete knowing are different and suddenly require caution and inspire appreciation.

I feel like right now with the holidays approaching and the weather getting colder, it is not an easy time to be alone or down. I know some people have lost loved ones around this time of year and many painful as well as joyful memories layer the holiday season. It makes me feel grateful for the family and friends that I have close by.

But to be honest, it has been hard to stay afloat above all the busyness and anxiety that comes around this time of year. Lately, I have noticed that I often forget to have fun and fill my days with carefully wrought plans as if by doing this, it will somehow guarantee my safe passage through life and inevitable change. Maybe that is why I started dedicating more time to my blogs again. I have been busy traveling and preparing my writing for publication and thought that the blog practice could slip into the background. But I have noticed that writing the blogs changes me. It keeps me aware of what happens throughout my day with an eye of curiosity and possibility. This awareness to witness my day without rigidity is what makes me happiest. In that way, writing about my life and the reflections that appear is like the snowfall. It brings attention to what is occurring in the moment and hope for what will come.

“When we live in a state of knowing, rather than unknowing, we’re living in a fixed state of being where we can’t experience the endless unfolding of life, one thing after another. Things happen anyway – nothing ever remains the same – but our notions of what should happen block us from seeing what actually does happen.” Bernie Glassman

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Halloween Stomach Flu

On Halloween morning, I woke up to my 11-year-old moaning, “Uma, uma” (Korean for mother). Because of jet lag, I wanted to see if he was just talking in his sleep. Both my son and I are major league sleep talkers. While fast asleep, I used to scream whole strings of arguments in Korean to the dismay of my non-Korean lovers. Just last week, Tristan cried out in his sleep, “I know sex is disgusting but…” and then his body nestled back into his plum colored duvet and started snoring lightly. But this morning, it was a cry from the bathroom, the toilet to be exact, where he was pouring out his digested dinner from his mouth.

After he threw up, instead of feeling better, his stomach knotted up in pain. Then for the first time in 3 years, he asked me to rub his belly. This really woke me up. I truly believe that this gesture of having your belly rubbed is an act of faith and trust. The trust comes from a childlike belief in magic; the type of magic that allows you to equate the touch of a loving hand with instant healing. Then there is faith that having your mother that close to your ailing body will create a sacred vigil of sorts and bring relief.

When I was four, I had a severe case of chicken pox. I could not stop my compulsive scratching, so my mother slid her special silk gloves onto my hands to keep them still or to dull my sharp nails. I remember begging her to sit next to me and pray (maybe to Buddha and Jesus?) for my itching to go away. As she whispered her requests to her God, it felt as if a cool mist covered my itching and made them tolerable for a moment. My mom still talks about this request. As a mother, I realize that it must have given her the same wave of bliss that I felt when I rubbed Tristan’s belly.

So I rubbed his belly with some castor oil and citrus lotion and sang him the song that my mother sang to me and her mother before her. It goes like this and mind you it is a translation. Literally it says, “Go down go down (the pain) and go away, your pain is just a fluke and mother’s hand is medicine.” It repeats in sing songy fashion that matches the rhythm of the circles on the belly.

When I was a child, I was happily wrapped up in the warm gesture of a belly rub from my mother’s soft hand. Now I see that it is also a gift it is to the mother who is rubbing her child’s belly.

Below are pictures from last Halloween. Tristan was Reno from Final Fantasy 7. I was Chin-Lee from Street Fighter.