On March 30, 2009 Won Kum and I joined the Smile Fitness Center, about a ten minute walk from our apartment. It has a full array of equipment from stationary bikes, treadmill machines, weightlifting equipment, stretching area, sauna, and shower room. Our previous fitness center was about a 20 to 25 minute walk from our apartment. After a good workout the closer distance is a big benefit, and even more so during winter time. Our new fitness center is located on the 10th floor, while our old one is located in the basement. As anyone can clearly see, we’ve moved up in the world, and at about the same price. The drawback is having to adjust to new equipment and new people–trainers and members. Even the simple change of a fitness gym results in adjustments, just think about the big changes like a new job, marriage, the birth of a baby, retirement, or the death of a loved one?
This afternoon, April 5, 2009 was a lovely time of day. The sun warmed-up things to a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so I went for a walk to take in some sunshine and fresh air. Your mother had gone to visit her sister and left me to fend for myself. I have an open invitation to go with her any time, but I like to stay home where I feel comfortable. Next week your Mother’s niece (Moo Young) is getting married, so I’ll go with her for that. You might remember her; She’s Moo Song’s sister, or daughter of 2nd brother. This will be my third attendance of a wedding since coming to Korea.
Before taking my walk I watched on the Internet in streaming HD (March Madness on Demand) number 2-seeded Michigan State Spartans beat the U-Conn Huskies and the Tar-Heels beat the Villanova Wildcats. U-Conn is a very impressive team, but their outside shooting wasn’t there today, and I am delighted the Spartans won. The Spartans are going to have their hands full with the Tar Heels as NC plays good defense, shoots the ball well from inside and outside, and are big and fast. In one game anything can happen, I just hope the Spartans don’t get blown out if they lose. Go Spartans!
I went to the fitness center six days in a row as a way of saturating my new surroundings with my presence. As we all know, many male animals saturate their territory with their scent glands and waste. I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me to use that same approach. I chose to saturate my new territory with my presence and sweat. I think it worked because I already feel a lot more comfortable going there. I know where the towels are, the water fountain, the sauna, and most of the equipment and weights I use. Another help is that a couple of your Aunt Won Wha’s friends attends there, and they came over and said “Hi” when they saw me. One of them even went and brought me back a small cup of coffee, about a thimble full as Nani would say. How’s that for service. The older women were taught when young to wait upon us men. I am now the benefactor of that training.
During my walk the following thoughts came to my mind. As a part of my job I attended workshops throughout the year to keep abreast of the latest state programs that I would be involved in to help implement at the local level, or for educational requirements in maintaining my certifications and state license. During our trips to workshops in Chicago we’d mingle with our city cousins during breaks and lunch time. It never failed that during our conversations with others from the Chicago area, our city cousins would comment about how friendly we were. None of us country bumpkins made any special effort to be friendly, it was just the way we were raised. We thought nothing of it. I’ve wondered about that off-and-on since then. Yesterday while walking I noticed every time I greeted someone, they almost always responded in kind. It’s very difficult for a person not to respond to a non-threatening greeting. All people like to be greeted, and it takes so little effort.
In the small community in which I grew up, most everyone took time to recognize the other person by saying hello, whether passing by during an afternoon walk or waving out the window as we passed by in our car. Very few people had air condition in their cars at that time except for 260 air condition, which is driving 60 mph with two windows down. Every person with whom you came in contact with that day received a salutation as a part of our daily life. If we saw a person working in their garden, we might stop and ask them about their tomatoes or their green beans. We didn’t find that type of interest as nosey, just friendly.
It’s not that small town people aren’t busy, it’s just they’re are not overwhelmed by the complexity of city life. At a certain point, whatever that point is, individuals of a community become faceless hoards of humanity through which one navigates through on his/her way to an appointment, work, or any number of other tasks. Instead of seeing individual droplets of water, we find a rampant river in which to navigate or survive. Instead of a hello to greet one another, a curse flows out of our mouth in frustration as our fellow citizen get in the way of our goals and objectives. All of us like being treated like an individual and not a number; we like it when people are courteous and assume others are not hindering them from performing their daily shores, at least on purpose. Unfortunately, a curse instead of a hello is often issued out of the mouths of many of our fellow citizens as we hurry through the traffic and communities that are foreign to us. At a certain point, whatever that point is, a dense populated area becomes a hazard to the individual.
On one of my trips to Chicago I found the going rough in finding the location of my workshop in the old Hay Market area of the city. After making several wrong turns I managed to find my way to the workshop site. Not wanting to be late for the workshop I happened upon a parking lot close by and pulled in. The parking attendant met the cars as they came in and collected the fee. I paid him but not in exact change. He reacted angrily, cussed, and yelled at me for not having the exact amount as he gave me back my change. After the workshop ended that day, I noticed he was presently not busy. I went to his small, shed-like office in the middle of the parking lot and spoke to him about his anger. I explained to him that I was a visitor attending a workshop, and I had no knowledge about the requirement of having the exact change to park here. I assured him that I didn’t show up just to make his day difficult. He responded with some understanding to my explanation. As a friendly person that I am, I don’t like being treated in a hostile, unfriendly manner. I can’t control how other people treat me, but I can tell them I don’t like their unfriendly comments.
The military is one the highest organized institutions ever assembled. In war a poorly organized military unit will lose the battle and soon the war if changes aren’t made to remedy the situation. For an individual, especially the lower ranks, anonymity is the rule of the day. At times the individual can loose himself and be overwhelmed and swept away by the thrill of being in something larger than himself, but when the thrill is gone and one comes face to face with himself at the end of the day, an emptiness can set in. When an interchangeable part of a well, organized machine fails, it is discarded and thrown away to be replaced by an identical part. A soldier comes face-to-face with his insignificance when asked to sacrifice his life in a meaningless military maneuver from a glory seeking, self centered general. Dead privates don’t complain much, do they?
In our present Zeitgeist I believe it is essential for all of our United States citizens not to forget the individual and the importance of resisting mob rule. As people are not the same and do not have the same abilities, no government can force sameness on its population. Our founding fathers warned us against governments who exercised too much power and imposed confiscatory taxes on its citizens to produce sameness among the population. garland dale
PS The Tar Hills were just too much for the Spartans. I believe the Spartans gave it their best shot, and that’s all any team can do. The Cardinals lost their opening game by blowing a two run lead in the last inning. The Cubs won their opener. I am so glad the baseball season has begun. garland dale