Breathing Old Breaths

I had Wednesday off this week which was a huge blessing. I felt like it was Saturday all day and every time I remembered it crushed me all over again. But it was 100% worth it. Work this term has actually been good, I think I even feel confident enough to say it’s my best term so far. But I’m sure you can agree, sometimes you just gotta be free. In lieu of my typical attitude of why-do-when-you-can-just-not, I decided to actually utilize my free day to Korea a little bit.

Korea-ing this week turned out to mean a trip to Olympic Park way out on the other side of the city. If you weren’t aware, Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics and there’s a big park that’s like a park but also home to several of the smaller venues like tennis, handball, and gymnastics. It was, in contrast to the weather generally, a grey and chilly day but not cold enough for me to want a coat with all the walking I was doing. There was some kind of school thing going on so there were hundreds of small children running around a large section of the park (and no, hundreds is not an exaggeration, it’s a big park and there were many different schools in attendance). Once I got away from them, though, I had a really pleasant time.

The park is built on the site of an old castle sort of thing from the kingdom of Baekje, one of the main kingdoms in Korea around the fifth century. I walked around the remains of earthen ramparts, next to the moat, and around the Olympic Plaza. Here are a few snapshots to give you the gist.

My week was pretty boring otherwise, so the remainder of this post I’ve dredged up from the depths of my draft bin. Not relevant to my week but interesting enough, I think. I hope you’ll pardon the sheer inanity of it; I may not stand by the writing but I’ll stand by the sentiment. People who sometimes feel nostalgic: what is something that you find yourself missing and with whom do you wish you could reminisce about it?

There is a painting by American artist Edward Hopper called Nighthawks. Painted in 1942, I just wanted to share it with you to strike the appropriate mood. I love the casual mystery of the scene and its occupants and I hope you find yourself as intrigued (and oddly soothed) as I am.

nighthawks_by_edward_hopper_1942

Without getting into the mind-boggling complexities of great scientific unknowns, I thought I’d offer up a few casual layman’s contemplations of the non-linear nature of time.

As a simple human, I can only experience time as a human may, and perhaps this is most comprehensively contained in the concept of memory, though not entirely so. Indeed, it may be that it is not the nature of time at all that I observe, the act of observing changing the reality. But that, too, is much farther into science and philosophy than I care to venture. Like, wow, sorry.

It seems to me that time can function both cyclically and randomly. An imperfect image, as all metaphors must of necessity be, is of the air. The uncountable millions of particles and molecules in our atmosphere continually course in and out of our lungs. Perchance, we will breathe the same individual atom any number of times, in quick succession or with decades between meetings. There is no way to keep track of what air we have breathed or to predict if ever we will encounter those breaths again. No breath is marked as different from the rest, save for the ease or difficulty of its breathing and the aroma we may chance to scent. Yet even aromas are false reminders, no matter their very particular resemblance, likely to be made of entirely new air simply carrying a similar perfume.

As often happens, I find myself rambling on and on and I hardly know what I am saying at this point. I apologize, it usually drives me wild when I go back and read posts like this. But unfortunate as it may be, I intend for this blog to capture all of me, including my incoherent pseudo-philosophical introspections. I take comfort knowing that I do not inflict it on you; you, reader, inflict it on yourself.

In a book, I encountered a sentiment that captures almost exactly what I want to say (simply saying it at the beginning would negate the need for the post). I will leave you with words from Robin Hobb:

It was possible to be homesick for a time, and to be lonely for the only other person who could recall it.

I have so few years to be nostalgic for but they weigh deeply in me, on occasion, nonetheless.

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