In (Korean) Budism, there is something called a "wha doe"(화두: 話頭).
This can be translated, literally as the (first) question/topic of conversation.
However, its true meaning is the question, mostly concerning life, you have in your head for a long time to reach a state of knowledge/nirvana. The Vipassana method of meditation per se.
I, not of my own choosing really, sometimes have this question in my head, which stays for a long time. The interesting thing is that when I have such a question, it is as if life decide to give me examples related constantly, so I can learn from them or see things in different perspective. (Amy Tan in her TED talk, talks about how this happens to her)
anyhow, this time the question is life, the speed of life, competition, winning and being lazy.
This weekend, my time was spent on the song "something important".
The main message of the song, no the main question of the song is, are you doing something important right now, and by the way what is important and why on earth do we ask this question to begin with?
I think this started with the fights I had with my boyfriend, which had much to do with him being slow and I trying to finish things in a rapid manner and getting stressed if they are done as such. Then the question was, why do I have to do this like such?
Similarly the other problem was that he didn't pursue some things hard enough, that he didn't really give his 100%... didn't try his best to save money, didn't work hard enough to achieve something etc...
all of which is vehemently argued against by Bertrand Russell in his (short) essay In Praise of Idleness.
It is the question of why am I running? where am I running towards and what then?
I think I used to be very competitive. Although I do not want to reinforce any stereotypes that exist in this world since there are too many as they are, living as an Asian American girl, in Texas, I think it really comes with the territory. You are driven to be competitive, and well the problem was that most of the time, without really trying hard, you were better than most people... well in the things that mattered, such as maths :-P.
This competitive edge did not decrease any bit when I came back to Korea. The only thing that changed was that art and music was taken out of the competition category.
Even later on in life, when I wasn't competing on special issues, the idea that I am very able and have all the potentials in the world, just that I am not diligent enough to follow up on them, an idea jammed in to my head constantly by my parents, and later on by myself made me nervous just enough to think I have to win.
Then came the question, what was this I had to win?
The other thing was hey do I really have that ability?
last question being, do I really want to win to begin with.
Many of these question came in waves due to various experiences.
One of which was my father's manner in which he lived and his inability to achieve what he and his environment thought was an obvious course for him to take.
He, being one of the elite of the elite, graduated from the best high school(back in his days they had to take tests to get in to good high schools), top of the class, went into the best university highest scoring department as the top, graduated as one, passed the civil servant test in a high score, was the director of a Korean economic planning bureau at a very early age etc.
Every one expected him to be a minister of economic affairs or atleast labour at atleast on point in his career. His shining career however was not meant to be, due to various reasons some of which was of his own fault, may it have been directly or indirectly, others chance of luck or in his case, bad luck and well mostly bad politics.
However, to this day I know that he is still waiting for everything to fall back into place and so that he can take on his rightful place in the government.
The problem is, the more I look, I feel like that the only reason he wants to take place in the government ministry, is not (only) because of the purpose of bettering Korea, the world, society etc, but it is the only game he knows how to play and he can't stop playing.
I do not say this in a condescending manner. I myself believe that I also am a victim of such single mindedness.
Originally written at the 26th of August 2008.
Just realised that I didn't write for such a long time, so am putting this up.
will add more to it later on...