Friday, March 5, 2010

The Journey

It's 5 days before I leave for Korea, and just today I got my work visa and plane ticket. I was supposed to have left a week ago but have been waiting on some documents from the school, delaying the whole process. Well, better late than never! I'm pretty jazzed, and taking this extra time to really get myself organized. You know how when you move, you want to clean through things thoroughly and par down to the essentials, but eventually you just end up throwing all your random stuff in random boxes? Yeah, I'm trying to avoid that.

I have a confession of sorts. For as much traveling as I have done, I have never really been somewhere where I didn't speak the language. Spain and Latin America= Spanish. Belize, the UK, the Netherlands= English. In Germany and France I was with other friends who spoke the language. Even in those countries, with their Germanic and Latin roots, I could decipher some words and signs. But Korean is of course, a whole other ball game. When I called the Consulate I felt a little anxious hearing the recording in Korean and waited impatiently to press a number for English.

I have never been to Asia and don't know exactly what to expect. I have traveled, but never lived for more than a few months in a foreign country. I have never had a full-time teaching job. In many ways it feel as if I'm about to step off a cliff, where I will fall into a void and wake up totally disoriented and gleeful in Seoul. For now I listen to my Korean tapes, try to memorize the alphabet, and slide into journey mode. Incidentally, two of my favorite poets wrote a poem on the topic, both different but both beautiful.

The Journey
by David Whyte

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

Painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

small, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes of your life.

You are not leaving
you are arriving.

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

1 comment:

ElizaBeth said...

Lovely post as always, and I especially love and feel spoken to by the second poem. I'm about to start the opposite journey - the one home.

In other news I've spoken to two people who had friends or family members teach in S. Korea and they LOVED it. I also have another friend whose brother moved to teach in S. Korea for 1 year and is still there, 10 years later. I think it's an excellent choice for you and the fact that you don't speak the language makes this very new journey of yours that much more thrilling. Godspeed!