Archive for the ‘reflections’ Category

Solitude: A Battleground

Photo by frank_hb

By Sarah D. Park

I’ve never been good at saying no to people. One drastic way of going about it is to physically remove yourself away from the people who would ask you to do things.

So I moved to Berkeley, California.

For most of my life, I had chosen to make community the driving and deciding factor behind my decisions. Where should I live? What should I do? How should I spend my time? I asked these questions always thinking about the communities I was a part of, which during my 20s consisted of my church that I was emphatically involved in, a progressive activist group of Korean Americans, and my childhood friends. I actually had been itching to leave Los Angeles since high school, but I chose to stay because there were communities here that had loved me well, and that I wished to love in return.

I believed in the beautiful things these communities were building and loved tying my identity to the ways a broken group of human beings can come together and strive for a vision of something true and good. By identifying collectively, I was greater than just one person.

There is also a singular peace that comes with knowing that when one invests in people, it is always worth it. Though I may never see the fruit of my investment immediately or in my lifetime, to love even one person has eternal repercussions and this was a reality I held close to my heart in a daily way.

People were always worth it, but I rarely included myself under that umbrella of “people”. Putting my needs and desires first, let alone valuing them enough to advocate for them, is a recurrent struggle (and I’m also textbook enneagram 2).

I had tried balancing my life to guard time for myself or for my writing, yet despite my best efforts, my schedule was an ever busy busy busy one, because I loved to love others, sometimes even at my health’s expense.

So when my work with Inheritance Magazine gave me the opportunity to work remotely, I leapt at the chance to pick a new place and go. Berkeley held the promise of a city with a powerful history, near a few friends and family so that I wouldn’t be completely alone, cooler weather, and a beautiful view.

I now find myself in the thick of the hardest transition I’ve subjected myself to yet. To be an externally processing extrovert and a writer is a oxymoronic joke. There have been stretches of days I’d rarely see anyone. I wake up in the morning, dubious of my discipline to spend that day well, and I go to bed feeling the weight of every wasted hour on my shoulders, regretting that it could’ve been better spent on someone else.

My self-imposed solitude feels downright masochistic most days, and there is no guarantee that blowing all my savings and living paycheck to paycheck – all because I believe God is preparing me to write something – will amount to anything. Without the convenience of tying my identity to communities, I’m horrified to discover that I think very little of myself outside of my competency and abilities in those contexts, and that despite the fact that I like myself, I do not value myself.

It is in solitude that I have heard lies the clearest and truths the hardest and I fail often in listening to the right voice. But I cannot deny that I am learning to get back up again and again to fight back.

Sarah D. Park is a freelance writer and editor, currently working in the Bay Area with a nod to her LA and OC roots. For more on how the protest turned out, see bysarahpark.wordpress.com.


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Photo by jessicahtam

By Maria Liu Wong

January was a pretty tough month. It began with a fairly calm, retrospective New Year’s Day with my family. After a festive brunch, we took out last year’s personal and family goals written on strips of paper and kept in a glass jar on the dining room cupboard, a reminder of new beginnings and possibilities. We took turns reading our 2017 goals and considering what was ahead for 2018. (more…)

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Photo by greg westfall

By Wendy Choy-Chan

When we think of discipline, an image often comes up of an athlete training day after day for a sport. What we put in is what we get — the more time, the more workout, and the more practice, the better the results and the stronger the athlete. (more…)

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Photo by Martin Garrido

By Tina Teng-Henson

For years, my wise younger sister would hear my husband and I plan our trips back East to see beloved family and friends, raise her eyebrows at the ambitious itineraries we’d set, and listen empathetically when a few weeks later, we’d be back to the relational rigor of our lives, no more refreshed than before. Over time, she would ever so gently extol the benefits and attributes of what she would call “a real vacation,” which involved a getaway to some new place, with fresh tastes and unique experiences to be enjoyed, interspersed with downtime and rest — to actually return home refreshed and restored. (more…)

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Photo by Hey Paul Studios

By Liz Chang

I pay most attention to my breath when it is thrown off its normal pace. I become aware of my breath when I pant to push myself a bit further at the gym, when I hold it as I walk quickly through a smelly sidewalk in the city, when it becomes shallow in an anxiety-provoking moment, and when I take in a deep breath to sigh or yawn. Breathing brings me into the present moment and is a mirror for understanding my mood and mindset. (more…)

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By Debbin Gin

They say that you can tell a lot about a community by the number of different words the community has for something: the greater the variety, the greater the importance of that something.  For example, where residents of warmer climates use only “snow” or “ice” to describe frozen water, the Inuit people and other native Alaskans choose from a couple dozen words, depending on the particular nuance needed for the context. Koreans have at least three words to refer to the English “hot” (dhupdah — weather-hot, mepdah — spicy-hot, and ddughupdah — hot-to-touch in English) and at least a half dozen different words just to state something is “spicy hot.” (more…)

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Photo by Kira Westland

By Dorcas Cheng-Tozun

Whenever I smell the scent of antiseptic, the sharp, cloying odor meant to clean and conceal, I think of my father. The three months he was in and out of the hospital. That last day, as I stroked his forehead and wept, never expecting to say good-bye to him just weeks before my fifteenth birthday.

I wondered where God was that day. I wondered why he hadn’t given us the miracle healing we asked for. (more…)

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