How to Shed the Past

I’m doing a long overdue closet/life overhaul.  Can’t quite commit to becoming a strict minimalist—though that fanciful image of sitting calmly in a completely Zen-like empty apartment is SO appealing—but I’ve let things get out of hand for awhile.  And I just heard of this great new alternative to getting organized. It’s called discarding.  And, man, is it freeing.

I’m also near the end of this AMAZING little book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by a popular Japanese de-cluttering consultant named Marie Kondo.  Maybe you’ve heard of it, or her (she has a three-month waiting list for her services!), or maybe you have a hoard of things in your home you’re constantly trying to put out of your mind. 

Well, no doubt the hardest part of de-cluttering is getting rid of things you feel emotionally attached to, those things of “sentimental value.”  

Apparently this is a rough part of the process for everyone—deciding what things of your past to keep keeping, or what to let go of for good.  

I found a viewpoint from Marie Kondo that is truly liberating — a way of thinking that releases the guilt, lets you let go, and while still paying respect to treasured moments/memories of your life.  I had to share it here (on my ever-clutterfree, always beautifully intangible BLOG).  Maybe it will help you!

Life is now; cherish your life [that is] now.

Marie Kondo:  

“It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure. . . The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

I highly recommend this book.  Very inspiring + motivating.

I Love the Unattainable

This quote below.  (Today’s Happiness Project quote// Gretchen Rubin.)   What do you think?

“The greatest of all human delusions is that there is a tangible goal, and not just direction towards an ideal aim.  The idea that a goal can be attained perpetually frustrates human beings, who are disappointed at never getting there, never being able to stop.”

— Stephen Spender

 →  →  DO YOU AGREE ?
(Cuz I don’t!)   I personally love the never-ending  s t r e t c h  of goals that are impossible, or near-impossible.  At least, I like it—the concept—mentally.  For some reason, I feel as if it’s wrapped up in a childish concept of fairness, or justice.  Like, when we were younger, all us violin kids would get to, say, the Bruch g-minor concerto.   Of course we all wanted/strived for that magical goal of both technical flawlessness + musicality like no one  had ever heard before.   But would anyone get there? Has it already been reached? Who cares, there’s that perfect performance hanging in the air that you keep grasping for.

A simpler way to put it:  I had been plugging away at excerpts before several auditions + losing some major inspiration.  Everything felt confining + practicing seemed fruitless.  My friend Jeehoon stumbled by my practice room (we were in school then) + said this: 

Who is your favorite violinist? Or…Who do you think is the best violinist that ever lived?  Is it Heifetz? Do you think Heifetz is the best violinist EVER, as in, no one will ever play better? Isn’t there at least a small possibility that you could be “better” than Heifetz? What stops you from reaching that high?   

What Jeehoon said completely freed me.  My mind was set free! I no longer felt like I had to just play better than most people who would show up at the audition; I could set a much higher, even unattainable goal than just “getting all the notes right” —  it was one of those moments in life that you don’t forget.  

The unattainability of perfection can be both equalizing + freeing.  Who cares about what big shot will show up + kill it? All that matters are your own higher aims, your personal ideals for beauty, your sincere attempts at great beauty.  

There may in fact be NO cause/effect at play here.  But in my memory, I had never felt so free to play the way *I* wanted to—perhaps for the first time I wasn’t trying to second-guess what others wanted me to do (which I used to think was a skill).  And unbelievably, magic started to happen in my life:  the next two auditions I actually won.  

So.  Jeehoon: 1; Stephen Spender: 0.

Oh Hi

Saw this today (not my pic; it’s from Pinterest) and had to share. . .

Look also at the shiny new baby boy my friend (from grad school & now we work together!) just had —

Is that too much or WHAT?!?

Time Stoppers Club


E V E R Y O N E   S H O U L D   W R I T E. 

There are obviously others of you out there who, like me, also feel compelled to write.  You see life, the world, passing, and you grab the moment by writing, and you write before it passes beyond your grasp.  So you can proceed with living.  It makes me feel better to know there are others of you.  I used to feel like writing was this domain of the fancy, or the intellectual.  I never want to call myself a writer, in that I don’t necessarily write to show others what I’ve written, or need/want to prove myself (no way).  Now I think it’s too bad that more people don’t pick up the pen for themselves, just for themselves.  You don’t have to write “properly”, who cares about grammar, and no one is grading you.  What is the big deal? You don’t have to show anyone.  I’m not saying blog publicly or anything.  I’m just saying writing helps you figure out and get perspective in ways that talking sometimes doesn’t, and sooooooooooo many people miss out on that. Sometimes you just need your own company, your own inner guidance/wisdom.  And you need that vehicle through which to talk to yourself on that deeper level ー sounds funny, but it’s true:  writing is there just waiting for you to use.  The pen, symbolically, is that vehicle.  Am I making sense?  I guess many would say that vehicle ought to be meditation, something non-verbal.  But for me I find that the answers from “somewhere” (not me) usually come when I’m writing.  I haven’t been left hanging yet. 

Ok, the writing propaganda part is over.   

T I  M E   S  T  O  P  P  E  R S   C L  U B .  

Time stoppage was also sort of propaganda, because actually I guess writers can’t stop time ー though it does feel like it, doesn’t it?  You sit here at the computer, or at the page with the pen, and any recorder of history or even creator of fiction, gets to feel like they control time for a minute.  And that’s crazy good.  It’s not only comforting and perspective-gaining, but gives one a little milestone in one’s morning, day, week, month, year ー however often you write.  I honestly don’t think I’m giving writing too much of a pedastal.  I even remember certain moments of writing when I was very young ー and they were when I was all alone, in unremarkable locations like my bedroom (the physical appearance of which I mostly forget), scribbling in [ok, very cute pink Hello Kitty or similar] notebooks, in escape mode from elementary school life ー when I detailed very insignificant moments really, in the playground, or more significantly, ideas of what Mozart was really like as a kid.  I clearly remember that this certain moment was second grade, but honestly in general I don’t have much of a memory of the rest of my early youth.  I’m thinking maybe it’ll be like that for me later as well.  I won’t remember much of my thirties, (scary), but I’ll remember a post I did on a certain pair of shoes that I really wanted. . . (sad). . . Who knows?  But it’s interesting to use writing to record things going on, and see what sticks, help yourself see what is really important to you.  (At least that is what I am hoping will happen for me.) Ok, back to packing/practicing combo.  My flight is at 4.  Maybe Time Pausers Club ー give us writers a bit more credit.  And since Time Slowers Club just sounds dumb.

Life Whisking By

LIFE continues to whizz by, with days too short for me to accomplish what I need to, whine whine whine. And really, there seems to be just a CHUNK of change going on, all at once.  Spock (Leonard Nimoy) died.  Eric had a baby named Mako (pronounced Māko).  I’m moving tomorrow (and I’m not packed)!

This was in OR. (I’m only stating “facts” now, since my memory is suddenly unreliable.)

This is either 2nd or 3rd grade ーI’m 7 or 8. Oh my god. . . It’s happened (and I never thought it would): I can’t remember which class picture is which. I only found two (above + below) at my parents’ house, so I can’t even play process/elimination. It’s like an aging test. Omg it*’s all a blur〜! ! *my life

ca. 3rd grade !?✱%✭〜$@ 4th? That bow sure is hideous.




So, I was panicking like this for awhile.  Then I had to practice. Which is good distraction, anyway.  Then I get back to packing my stuff (I’m moving tomorrow, did I already mention that?).  So what, the future scares me, my life’s a blur and almost ¾ over, I need to PACK!  Then I see this (below) taped to my portable file carrier-thingy.  I don’t even remember when I got that . . Hey!  Didn’t yesterday I write about fortunes? OooooOOOOOoooOOOOOOOooooooOOOOoooo. . . . .



Freaky, right? I told you something is UP.  REALLY.

Writing To Linger In The Moment

[I wrote this last night/morning around 3am.  But it didn’t post as scheduled.  (Wasn’t that brave/foolish of me to write and post at 3am?!  I surprise myself sometimes, how I live on the edge.)  Hmm.  Anyway, this is kind of a crazy weird coincidental two-parter with today’s post, so it’s better this way.  Some FORCE (for good) intervened.  Thank you, misterioso force.]

W  H  Y   W  R  I  T  E  ??

Writing slows down time, and I want to linger.  There are many reasons to write [for yourself], but often I write when I need to slow down time.  Sometimes I feel the world has forgotten to pace itself and accidentally took too large a step forward. . . and, it’s not that I’m left behind, but I feel too light and insubstantial, like time could just whisk me away and suddenly twenty years will pass and there was nothing I could do.  But there is something I can do ー I can write.

Usually I do this privately, but whatever.  I’m moving, and all my notebooks are packed, and only time will tell (what a great phrase) if this is a good decision ー but I am not going to hold back.  My cat is staring at the screen very seriously as I type and I feel like she shares this feeling of gravitas that I feel about time and writing and this post ー oh but now she looked away.  Of course.

The deepest blankest cold feeling of fear that I get is from feeling that time will go too fast for me to . . . get-myself-in-order and do-everything-right in time (?)  That IS honestly what it feels like I need to do ー as vague and strange and stupid as that sounds.  “In time” ー that kind of vague but urgent sort of deadline would give anyone anxiety I suppose.  But I really don’t have anxiety about it, not the long-lasting agonizing sort, just super-short ultra-blasts of it once in awhile.  I used to just categorize and file it under “existential attack” and then at least it would have a label, but now that I’m getting older I really feel that timer ー what do I need to do to “get myself in order”?  What can I start doing to ease these feelings?  I don’t think they’re just “panic attacks” and I should just medicate.  It’s a sign from my body/mind/self.  Obviously there is a message attached.  It’s a bouquet. With a card.  No, it’s a fortune cookie, with a fortune that reads:

Buzzer going off so loud, why you not do anything?

(*I’m Asian, so it’s semi-ok for me to make jokes like that.)



Only about a minute ago, this was me:

This is me and my uncle James. I just saw him the other day. Time flies by.

W H E R E  D I D  T I M E  G O ? ?  N E E D   T O   W  R  I  T   E     M O  R  E  .    .   .   .
.  .  .  T O    S L  O  W    T   I   M   E      D    O    W    N.

Balloon Background: The Unreality of N. Korea

**More info on balloons last paragraph ↓

Photo credit: Reuters

First of all, I’m not sure if people understand the situation of what “totalitarian dictatorship” and “oppressive” means in the North Korean sense.  I mean who can grasp this level of isolation from the rest of the human population, especially in the age of social networks, the global economy, the ever-shrinking digital world?

Unlike other tyrannical regimes, which might have rigid controls and/or severe limitations on the Internet; North Korea simply has no Internet.  (Or, I should say, the North Koreans don’t have it—I’m sure their leadership has access).  Other authoritarian governments punish or imprison their dissidents; North Korea has no dissidents.  Any offenders are executed and furthermore their families, for generations, are sent to labor camps.

Isolation in N. Korea is total: there is no connection to the outside world, and there hasn’t been since 1953.  There are thousands there who have zero knowledge of any world history—not even their own.  They are allowed to know that the Kim dynasty has descended from God, and that is all they need to know, according to their government.  It is no wonder that there is no speaking against the government—citizens are not AWARE of any other alternative.  One cannot even speak against the government within your own home.  There is no television that is not state-sponsored—not there is much time to watch anyway, as electricity is shut off at night to preserve their limited resources (which is why satellite pictures of N. Korea often show it pitch black, in contrast to the bright, twinkling South Korean side).

So. I have known these facts for awhile, I’ve watched (w/disbelief) many documentaries on North Korea—many where N. Korean citizens (including tiny little children—esp. unnerving) sing songs about the Dear Leader and then [seemingly] spontaneously break into tears of “joy” and “gratitude.”  They always leave me slightly spooked yet fascinated…  I’ve also watched the docu-films on the dangerous, highly-involved (often 6-mos+ preparation) escape from North to South.  And I thought that I would, through learning about these people’s experiences, better understand the tangled web of brainwashing, fear, and self-preservation that holds this dictatorship together. But I really still am incredulous. The more I find out, the more unbelievable it all seems to be —

And instead of growing closer in feeling, to these Koreans—after all, we share the same ethnicity, we are only 62 years divided as a country; in my mind, they are my Korean “brethren”— I often catch myself feeling as if I am studying a different species, let alone my Korean kinspeople.  How can Kim Jong Il, Kim Il Sung (his father), and now the 20-something baby-dictator Kim Jong Un treat his own people in such a way? And what kind of people “let” this happen? How did this happen? How did we let half our country’s children starve under a brutal, clearly insane sociopath?  Speaking now as a member of the human race:  How did *we* let this happen??

You wouldn’t begin to understand—at least I couldn’t— the level of isolationism until you get an example.  Here is one—  I just found this out from an interview: N. Koreans grow up and live their whole lives believing (this is incredible) that South Korea is still in recovery mode from the war. . . yes, the Korean War. (Like from the ’50’s.)

And they are still hearing, for years, the same song & dance from their government: North Korea is the best country on Earth; Kim Jong Un is the finest leader (descended from gods); they are the luckiest people on Earth.


When you read interviews of former escapees, former North Koreans, they tell hauntingly similar stories of a neighbor or friend who absentmindedly hummed/sang a bar or two of an old folk song (when Korea was united, so a South Korean song technically) — after that day, they were never seen again.

In the New York Times Magazine, they once featured the colorful artwork of children who had survived the escape from North to South.  Many had drawn soldiers with large rifles shooting members of their family, with much blood drawn in bright red.

This is the same child who no doubt sang the N. Korean patriot’s song and cried along w/the other children when they sang about their “beloved Dear Leader”—!  And here he is a year or two later drawing a soldier of the Dear Leader’s army killing his truly beloved mother.   Does this not demonstrate how young the brainwashing and true–inner/false–outer complexity (confusion) begins and also — maybe more importantly — at how young and vulnerable an age it is equated with life and death.  Is there any other culture where a child must don a mask (in school) in order for him and his family to survive?

Members of an anti-North Korea civic group release balloons containing leaflets denouncing the North's leader Kim Jong-un towards North Korea, at Imjingak pavilion in Paju
Each transparent, cylinder-shaped “balloon” is more than 20 feet in length

**More info on the balloons:
Each giant tubular balloon (approx 20 feet in length) holds three large plastic-wrapped packages.  These packages contain what I told you before, plus a few more things that I just learned about.  Along with the USBs, newspaper clippings, and cash ($USD —though, ✵✭correction, they are $1-dollar bills, not $100-dollar bills, as my dad had said), they also include DVDs, transistor radios, and leaflets that are printed with timely info/news from around the world.  {They are balloon-bombing them with info!}  Also, most cleverly, each balloon is equipped with a small timer.  Once the balloons travel far enough across the border, the timer will break open the plastic and the package’s contents will be scattered across the North Korean countryside.  (How satisfying.)  I’d like to get a video of that.

Many of the balloons say “Kim Jong Un Is Lying To You” and “The Regime Will Fall”