Historians debate whether history is a linear or cyclical process. Whether man’s character is inhibited from change by the our very natures and so merely repeats itself in another variant, or whether man is moving onwards, forever changing his destiny though to what, he rarely knows. I guess, on a personal level, it depends how much you learn from your mistakes. Whether you know, from self-awareness or lessons taught, that to avoid a similar circumstance, you take on board the consequences and move on a wiser person.
After near-on two years here in Seoul, I tender the question: Where is my personal history? Am I closer to somewhere? Have I drunk it away ?
My last weekend, if not by the calendar but in my mind as Scott and Sarah wouldn’t be able to attend the final few days, I ended up in Hongdae, in a club, in freezing weather, with no phone and a home to return to which was made up of a comfortable mattress on a heated floor with only the wonderful AFN (American Forces Network) for companionship. As I lay in bed, hungover as usual, wondering if Sunday mornings truly exist, deja-vu struck me. That weekend was a mirror of my first weekend in Seoul, club night, bitter, snowy weather, the bedroom, everything. So I started to mull over my personal history and destiny. What have I learnt? Am I getting anywhere and does it matter?
I’ve realised somethings: That beer is not a panacea and whiskey is not the solution. I know that double-chins are not temporary. With friends, quality far out-weighs quantity; that anyone can be funny, no matter what you thought of them at first. I need to follow Aesop’s Two Bag fable about man having two bags tied round his neck with faults inside. The front bag contains his neighbour’s faults, the rear his own faults so that men are blind to their own faults but never forget their neighbour’s faults. Alcohol brings us together and drives us apart and guilt is usually somewhat justified; I know now I have little patience and my directness can be interpreted (not mis-interpreted) for rudeness; but good words last forever and hugs mean a lot.
Ajumas don’t get more polite; mono-culture isn’t for me, that to learn you have to take a step back. My friends in Seoul are older and wiser. They’re good people with hearts in the right places and I am fortunate they let this stupid wanker know them. There is nothing more to strive for in life than to be surrounded by good, interesting people (especially with nice cast-offs!!). Milan Kundera’s Ignorance talks about how people remember the same events differently but I hope we remember things in a similar vein even if I can’t remember at all!
I know that I hate spitting; Apples are better than Windows and bananas are best of all. Envy and jealousy really do have different meanings; you need a little stress in your life to help them through the unexpected trials, to give us balance. I learnt that I can’t travel with a woman; and meeting girls in the toilet is no basis for a relationship. I know that I love my job but hate teaching kids. And age allows us to blossom, not wither. Life is best served older and revenge never at all.
My recent highlights revolve around the same thing; the Hilton Hotel/transvestite night with Nev, Young Soo and the Gorings, the October house party, the K1 show with Dave, preceded and followed by night outs including with the K1 guys, the November test matches with Scotty and finally the December nights out with Ronnie and Debs, Yoon and Christine, Bryan ,Dan, Paul and Andy. The common link is friends. Thanks guys.
The hardest part is not walking away from my friends cos I know I’ll see them again but instead erasing this stupid smile I have when I think of them. I could be sad but rather I’m proud and it’s time to walk on. As I’ve said, the next words we’ll exchange will be hello. It’s been near two years since I left for Seoul and for some important reasons I could come back, for others I couldn’t. Knowing when to move on and when to stay on, is a defining moment in a man’s life. Being an indecisive Englishman, that ain’t easy but I know it’s now. Well, this is me and the search for the Way of the Dan continues.
Goodbye and take care.