Friday, September 30, 2011

Humble Mind

Sitting in Incheon Airport, where they still do not have a service that knocks you out and loads you on the plane only to have you awaken upon landing, so I guess I have to awaken all by myself.   And is there really a direct flight to Detroit?  And who is on that flight?  My flight has not even made it to the big board yet, so I have plenty of time to contemplate the randomness of life and death and the Motor City while sizing up the crew members of Korean Air.  I do this only because my most wonderful host, Ji-young, is at a preliminary interview with Korean Air today that consists entirely of them determining that she is pretty and thin enough to be one of their flight attendants.

I think she is, by far, but then again, I stand at a distinctly unlady-like 5'9" so what do I know?  I do know that I am going to miss Korea a lot.  While here, I read a history of North Korea, which is kind of the same as reading a history of South Korea too since their histories are intertwined.  I was completely surprised by what I learned.  I had learned none of it in school and I suspect most Americans have no idea of their role in why Korea is what it is today.  

If people had wanted to throw stones at me, I would not have blamed them.  At the Contemporary Art Museum, I saw photographs from the early 1960s where Seoul is mainly some low buildings and mud.  Although I am hardly a fan of new construction and development in most instances, I think what Korea is today is remarkable and hugely impressive.  That no one threw stones at me but instead treated me as a valued guest, well, it brings tears to my eyes.  I am sorry for what Americans did in Korea but I am even more sorry that this story simply is not told as part of our history education.  

When I was at Myogaksa, we did 108 prostrations, counting our bows with beads as we made a mala.  The nun leading the program told us it would help cultivate our "humble mind".  That notion of a humble mind came up for me again and again thereafter.  I would think about it when I was crossing the street and a car would want to cut me off - the New Yorker in me would scowl with a bit of "oh yeah, you wanna fight about it?" attitude and suddenly I would think, "humble mind!"  especially after I saw others bowing to the driver who had tried to cut them off.  

Humble mind.  I am pretty sure that one could do a lot worse in life than to fully cultivate one.  Now I humbly put my faith in the thin and pretty crew of Korean Air and their flying machine that will take me back to New York.  Hope to see you there!


Patti Blaine said...

Beautiful. Fly well!

Taos Sunflower said...

You're so right, Robyn. I think we don't learn a lot of those things in school because it's easier for our system to wax over all the horrible things we've done in so many places.

tinebeest said...

When I was in Korea in 2002-03 there were tensions about the US army presence in the country. Some of my classmates were US soldiers, and were told to go back to base early on several days when big protests were planned. I am not a US citizen and fortunately never had any problems.

I miss Korea, too. I am glad to hear you had a great time. It is a fascinating country (I study the ancient history of East Asia) and more people should know about it, and about the great food!