When I first came to Korea, my grandmother looked at me and immediately took me to the Korean medicine doctor. He held my wrist and told me that my body felt empty and hollow — as if I didn’t have capacity to hold my own. He said if my body were a pot, it was as if there was only a shallow layer of water to cover the bottom surface. When the pot is shallow like that, it heats and cools quickly. You anger easily, become depressed quickly. But when the pot is filled with a lot of water, it’s slow to react to heat and also slower to cool. It’s less affected by outside factors and more able to hold a steady temperature against external changes. He called that water “기 / qi”, but I guess you can call it whatever you want. The real question is how to get more water back in the pot. And how to stop it from constantly disappearing.
This might be a break up letter with “The Movement.” That thought has been floating around my mind for awhile now, since I was in the Bay. Since I started realizing that there are so many hurt people in The Movement hurting other people / since I realized that very few movement people are looking for the same kinds of things I am / since I’ve had to confront the ghost of a person I’ve become / since I took a non-profit job with no boundaries, lost a friend, and since the movement pulled me away from my family / since I ran out of pages in my journal and learned that the movement couldn’t give me what I was asked to leave behind / since I booked a flight and left the U.S. without any notice.
I still believe in the revolution, I still believe in radical political change, I still believe in social justice and organizing. I just don’t think that I can continue to insert the movement into my life like this; I want to be living the movement. The type of life that academics critically analyze, the type of person organizers bring onto the stage to share their stories. The people that are actually living the values of the movement and enacting changes daily. I don’t think we need any more organizers. And we don’t need to be one to be in the movement. I believe that the movement occurs everyday. It occurs in our minds, in our actions, in the way we love one another, in the way we hold others, in the ways we feed others. Alongside writers, teachers, clothing designers, factory workers, grandmas, childcare providers — everyone who permeate the political in their lives. I’m looking for something else. A way that doesn’t involve mass dictating political thought. A type of expansiveness and wisdom that is quiet and rumbling. A type of energy that can root itself and build up anywhere. A way that guides our bodies to remember how to listen, forgiveness, & embrace. Maybe I’m just too soft for The Movement.
I thank the Movement for what it’s given me and allowed me to do. It gave me so many years of unbelievable hope & potential, hours of laughter on other activists’ couches, the fearless courage to start all the random projects I wanted to, the voice to confront that White asshole friend, a broader spectrum of emotions, occasional lovers & all the friends, yellow rage over food / affirmations over food / crying over food / so much food, the ability to articulate my feelings, the push to reflect and realize the wrongs that I’ve done, the opportunity to learn so so much. But most importantly, it gave me the lens through which to look at the world — and the accompanying agency to be able to make decisions for myself.
It’s just that I’m just looking for something else.
Here, I don’t have to remind myself to breathe / relax / stop thinking about too many things / feel like I’m enough. It happens here so naturally, amidst the familiar alleys, hearty food, and the TV’s soft chatter. I wonder if this is what my friends feel when they go home — wherever and with whomever it may be. A sense of comfort and familiarity so strong that you forget the pains from before. A sense of being so grounded that it feels like I don’t ever have to pick up another faux Buddhist book about meditation / a feeling so intense that it so cleanly mends past wounds.
I feel more myself here. And as time passes, a fear in me grows bit by bit — the fear of going back and losing myself again.