“Wouldn’t Life Be Grand” Wednesdays

I never used to look forward to my Wednesday teaching days.  My reasons vary, but I will not bore you with the details. Due to infrequent buses to this really rural town, my alarm goes off an hour before my usual wake up time. I take the local bus 20 minutes to the town of Jijoeng-ri, and am left with an awkward and uncomfortable hour of sitting in the teacher’s office reading in the corner, while the vice principal sits at her desk plucking her nose hairs and examining her wrinkles in a hand mirror.

A couple of weeks ago, while stalling my walk to the school from the bus stop, I wandered around the ghost town, peeking into shops and abandoned buildings. I followed my grumbling tummy into the one and only, lonely bakery.  The surprised owner greeted me and kindly explained what each baked good was.  She recommended the scone looking item, handed me a soy milk carton and I was on my way.  I enjoyed each and every crumb, as I leisurely strolled along the sidewalk taking in the sunshine, while observing the miles of rice paddies and inhaling the fresh air filled with honey sweet scents of blossoming lilac trees.  Life wasn’t too bad.  I was content and cherished the early morning time and thought instead of whining about my Wednesdays and dreading Tuesday nights, I would turn it into something I could look forward to.

The following week, I refrained from eating breakfast, in hopes to try another delicious bread or treat, only this time the glass table in the middle of the shop was cleared off and after I purchased my lemon muffin, the owner insisted that I sit down.  Her husband made an appearance only to offer me a hot cup of tea and a handshake exchanged with a warm, bright, but shy smile.  The owner, who introduced herself as Kim Sil Choe, sat with me and showed pictures of her family as we held our conversation in a mix of Korean and English, or what some call Konglish and before I knew it, it was time to walk to school.

Last week, I refused my teachers orders to take an afternoon off to make a visit to Dr. Kim, with the hopes of ridding my cold naturally instead of using antibiotics.  This was not easy though seeing as teaching is demanding and draining of all your physical health.  I was at a breaking point on Tuesday, but absolutely did not want to give in.  I scraped myself out of bed along with with my whooping-cough, mild fever and throbbing headache, but I thought of Kim Sil Choe, my bakery treat and knew I could get through day.  When I arrived, Sil Choe immediately was concerned with my condition and offered me a cup yellow, sweet, cold drink she called Mae Shil Cha, what I later found out was Japanese apricot tea. I don’t think we talked at all that morning, as I just sat in poor condition resting my head on the glass table, but comforted by her motherly, nurturing simple presence.  She just sat with me, getting up once in a while to answer the phone.  She sent me off with a cold water bottle full of cha, waving as I slowly staggered down the street to school.  Just an hour later, my fever seemingly disappeared, my cough miraculously subsided and I was feeling somewhat normal.  I later researched information about the mysterious substance to find out that people use Japanese apricot for fever, cough, intestinal disorders, trouble sleeping, menopausal symptoms, cancer and prevention of heart disease. It is also used for detoxification and thirst.

Changing a rather unpleasant day of the week into one that I can look forward has been a relative breakthrough in my life.  If I could use this mindset and practice this skill in all outlets from my personal life to work life, wouldn’t life be grand?!  Sometimes, you wonder why you are put into situations or why you are in a certain place in life.  We ask “Why does this have to happen to me?”  I now am trying not to wonder, give it time
(even if it’s two or three years) and remember that there is some grand scheme and plan behind it all.  It’s beautiful actually, and something that excites me each day.  Wouldn’t life be grand if we could just train ourselves to think positively and our mind to see the good instead of the bad.  I now look at Wednesdays in a new light although it has not done any justice for my hips (and usually hear the voice of Jilian Michaels scolding me while I guiltily savor each bite). The way you start your day, can affect the entire outcome of it, just as the way you think can change your outcome of the situation.

Many weary Wednesdays later, I can now see the underlying purpose of it all unfolding beautifully in front of me.  I am now grateful for the negative experience that has magically changed into a positive one just from the energy created by simply starting my Wednesdays off sharing it peacefully and happily with Sil Choe, while sampling the rest of her bakery goodies and expelling that energy throughout the day.  Instead of counting down the days and wishing them away, I now cherish the last two months of my commute to Jijeong-ri.

“Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours.” -Sweedish Proverb


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