By Kim Sun-ae
I went to Suncheon Bay Wetland Reserve and walked to the observatory there. In many parts of the wetland, reeds were cut. I knew that they were cut about this time of the year. However, I embarked on this trip as soon as I made up my mind. No one knows whether we'll be able to travel later.
On the way to the observatory, a cool wind blew in the pine forest. At the observatory, the view of a river flowing into the sea unfolded. The winding river, the ocean waves glittering in the sunlight, it was beautiful.
Returning downtown and walking down an alley, I came across a small bookstore. There I bought handmade woolen coasters in the shape of camellia flowers. Red petals surrounding the yellow stamens, with a small green leaf on one side. When we make something, we know it will become worn out someday. Nevertheless, we do not stop creating beauty. Even knowing the end, we begin. At those moments, our lives sparkle with beauty.
The next morning, I couldn't help but smile at the red camellia flowers on the way to Seonam Temple. Walking to the temple from its entrance, I felt refreshed by the clean water in the valley and the clear sound of water.
Under a tall pine tree in the temple, I was just sitting, doing nothing. In the cool breeze and warm sunshine, in the sounds of the birds and of a wooden gong, I wished for nothing.
For over 10 years, I worked receiving salaries. When I was absorbed in work, I used to forget that I have a body. Perhaps, it would be sadder than death to live without breathing comfortably even once in one's life and then stop breathing. To die after always chasing something or being pressed for time, and holding our breath with fear, worries and tension. I want to comfortably exhale my last breath after living a satisfying life. I wanted to live feeling that I am alive.
Before deciding to quit the salaried job, I was afraid that I might not be able to earn a living. Nonetheless, I made up my mind after reading two obituaries I had written before. One was an obituary people would read if I continued living the way I had lived so far. This obituary didn't exceed three sentences. I couldn't write any more. The other was my obituary after I live a life different from now, based on the potential we all have. Which life would give me more joy? It became obvious when I read those obituaries.
Suncheon Bay is the place where the river and the sea meet, the end of the river and the beginning of the sea. There I ended a familiar life and began a new life. How will life change if I go beyond the environment I am accustomed to?
Kim Sun-ae (blog.naver.com/dancinglf) is a writer and translator.