As I prepare, once again, to leave Korea, I can't help but reflect back on all the good and bad I have experienced here. It's been more than 12 years since I first came here and in that time I have witnessed many changes and experienced many changes in myself, many facilitated by the people I have met and shared time with here.
I have made many friends while here, many who have become whanau and will be part of my life no matter where I journey. I've found love and realized that isn't always an easy journey in itself, especially when one has spent almost half a century independent and unemcumbered. Learning the responsibilities that come with commitment to another is a steep learning curve and I've made many a glaring mistake as I try to balance my dreams with another's realities and existing obligations.
That's a story that is yet to be completed, I trust.
I've learned much from my jobs here and believed I've grown in my writing and understanding of others (with the exception of the above-mentioned glaring mistakes, that is). I've been privileged to work with some of the best writers in Korea and to number many wonderfully creative people, both Korean and expats, as dear friends and respected colleagues. I've watched young friends grow and develop and attain great things in the crucible of South Korea where change is rapid yet tradition remains strong.
But, it feels my time here has finally come to an end (although friends tease me I will be back, and I've learned never to say never). I've been here too long and have fallen into lazy habits I dislike. It is time for a new challenge and new horizons, although I will begin those by returning to the bosom of my family while I plan the next adventure.
It's also strange, that after so much of my life spent excited by the thought of stepping into the unknown with only what I can carry, I've found myself nervous this month about doing just that. Perhaps it's just the cold and a seasonal illness that has me down, there's also much yet unknown that I would like to plan but can only wait on for now. But I remembered that freedom again yesterday, and that there are thrift shops and stores in most parts of the world and that possessions are merely that - possessions. When they become more than that, they start to possess you.
So I'm happier in myself, again.
I'm also very sad today that a much-loved friend lost his best friend today, and my heart breaks for him and his family. The only solace I can offer, apart from my thoughts and prayers is a quote I've cited here before:
Grief is the price we pay for love.
I believe the reward is worth the steep price, no matter how much it hurts . . .