“I am scared for the future. We have to be organic in the way we treat each other. What is most important is the relationship.”
It was 5:58am as I sat next to stranger now friend in waiting for the 9:30am door opening of registration for the community centers summer arts classes. Seemed both of us shared a common goal of getting our kids signed up.
To the left of me was the entry to the center and between it and I were around ten people. To the right a line that was growing to be longer than I could count, literally filling the sidewalk as far as I could see with a quick lean forward from where I was sitting.
Usually my wife did the morning wait, but that year I had become the chosen one, partially by my decision, and partially in respect to my wife for the previous four years of her sitting in the folding chair that I then found myself occupying.
I mentioned my friends to the left, and the length of persons that were at my right, but I did not introduce you to the new 365 friend I have been hinting of. To my immediate right, was mother and artist, So-Ok.
In regards to the aforementioned 5:58am arrival and the knowledge of the much later opening for class sign-up, I settled in for a morning of meaningful conversation with So-Ok. It was not often that I got to spend extended time with my new friends and I had to give thanks for being able to sit with a person that I considered a highlight in my 365 journeys.
Three hours I shared sidewalk with So-Ok and from it I can definitely say I am a better person for having been able to break morning bread with her.
I asked So-Ok for her words of advice to us. Humility is an understatement in describing So-Ok as she paused, grabbing her jacket, while reflecting how to answer our questions.
Jacket on, she shared three simple words, “Respect the other.”
Yet in her succinct summation there was deeper meaning, So-Ok quoted, “People can become selfish and they have to begin to think not only for themselves. They need to learn to be concerned for the other people. That is what it means to not be selfish. Relationships will never end: Spouses, friends, people and in-laws.
If you don’t now how to deal with it, you are loosing out. If we don’t think about only ourselves, we gain.
I am scared for the future. We have to be organic in the way we treat each other. What is most important is the relationship.”
As we talked, a palpable trust was forming. Perhaps it was the fact that we were both enrolling children in the same community center classes. Quite possibly it was the morning grogginess that had numbed our senses. Or maybe it was the fact that we were stranded together in waiting and were merely entertaining one another. All thoughts that were questionable, and results of the pessimistic side of my brain.
Yet, what was really overpowering was the spirit I felt when speaking with my new friend So-Ok. It was visible in her every word, and she was truly enveloped in peace. There was pessimism in her, just a person accepting of another human (me) and she had a meaningful thought to share. I was engrossed.
“When my kids grow up, it might be a little different.” So-Ok explained, “like in a Sci-Fi movie, isolated, individual. The way they communicate will be different from now. I am a little sad about it.”
So-Ok referenced an advertising campaign that addressed the perils of irresponsible use of new technology. A series of billboards, sponsored by the Ad Council, that compared the joysticks of the virtual world to that of interacting with nature, An ad that said we need to be more organic in turning away from digital facades to appreciate the real beauty of the world around us.
“Advice to the future?” So-Ok again became reflective. “We have to realize what the true value in life is, living with others. If you don’t lose that part, the future won’t be as difficult.”
So-Ok spoke of relationship, “If you think about living by yourself, it is so sad. I am always with my kids, and I am sad for those who are lonely. Being lonely is really bad.”
If you are lonely So-Ok offered this encouragement, “The person who is lonely has the key to open the door. If you are, do what you can to get out the house and be ready to accept that people are there to greet you. Otherwise it does not work.”
For those of us who are not lonely, So-Ok gave us this. “It is hard to approach the lonely person, because the loneliness is based on their life and you don’t know what they have gone through. Like if someone is in depression in your family, it creates a whole depression in your family. At least that family member can try to help within your family or circle of friends. Although we are not like a counselor who spends a lot of time to know the life of their patients, we at least need to open our hearts to those that are lonely.”
So-Ok was a compassionate and loving person, but just as important, she was a mother of two children. “As a parent, my heart goes out for children who don’t have parents, that must be a really sad thing. It is not their choice to be here and we need to be aware of that.
I volunteer in my children’s classes and I see it in the faces of children, some are angry, some are not. We need to take care of our children.
Too many parents don’t care. Some teachers don’t care. That will carry in their character.
For me, saying I love my children is never enough. Love is the starting point. If it does not happen in the family, we should express it. Love is like water, like nutrition.
That is how my parents raise me and that is what I believe.”