This was ago


what is at stake is nothing less than life.

if I focus carefully, grasping the tuning fork between thumb and forefinger, I can hone in on it. the world collapses, or disappears, and a moment, revealed, lens distortion, chromatic aberration, macro lens, zooming in, edges crisp. we see; it, for a moment, clear as day, microscopic but huge, present. here it is, sandwiched between layers of existence; here it is, the present, shall we call it, or something like that. very distinct.

it flutters. always here. I hone in. zoom in. focus focus focus. it's crisp, and huge, and powerful. this, this thing, this is it, nothing but it, no other presence, just it, this thin thing, this thin miraculous thing we call a life, my thin thing, a sliver, just a tiny sliver, mine, a momentary zip, mine, a singular manifestation. I feel it so achingly, so distinctly.

do others? I am tempted to ask. but I wonder why that answer would have any meaning. if, like I suspected, others' didn't, what would that give me? some feeling of superiority, 우월감? and conversely, if I was late to the game, would what would it provide? validation? nervousness?

this thin sliver I hold in my hands, making sure it is mine.

what's question at stake, what's at stake is the definition of a kind of practice. my practice.


(why do I want to show this, I wonder?)


(you can never use words straight, because they are so overloaded, overladen, a young apple tree struggling under the weight of coats and heavy sheets draped over it, struggling to exert itself. the overloaded signifier.)

there's this particular sensation in the air sometimes, usually listenable around dusk, or a pre-sun dawn, or late at night. sometimes I head out to the east river to see if I can listen to it there, overlooking this glimmering city. it's a particular sound. sometimes I imagine that it's something that only I can hear, it seems, a sound that only I am listening to.

but I know this isn't true, or that there are others who have their own landscape to this sensation. I know this because I occasionally meet them. you can tell; there's a particular way someone leans their head and points their ear towards the wind, listening intently. sometimes they might stop mid-sentence, like a dog's ears perking, attention suddenly honed. sometimes, they emerge out of listening to say hello, as if emerging from a lake, dripping wet and smiling. and with one or two dear people I know, I get the sense that they're always listening, all the time, music in the distance.

sometimes, I've stopped, and heard it too. sometimes being near someone else who is listening allows me to listen. being in solitude in the desert, in huge expanses of openness cracks your ears wide open, antenna tuned to the sky, ready to receive.

some days I find that these sounds are harder to listen to, sometimes. or they get buried under signals, other communications, the easy chatter of normal life. but it's there, present.

this sensation best moves through letters. missives are sent, sent on journeys. an arc from here to there. a hello made possible through a goodbye. to leave is to begin to arrive somewhere else, and to walk is to always be leaving and arriving.

these days it's not the easiest to hear this with another person. to listen together means to settle into the depths of what a life truly is; what this thin existence does. what is at stake here? what is at play? at some point I remember this being one of the most urgent questions of my entire life, probably at fifteen, wondering what my life would be like, wondering what this new life was. plunged from korea into usa, living away from home, the world was an existential question, navigating difference all over again, wondering what this thing was. what is this thing? and how come so many people seem like they're used to this? in high school, I wondered -- is all of this so normal to you all? now, at thirty-six, I wonder: is all of this so normal to you all?

this is my first time being thirty-six; this is my first time being this age; this is my first time living life. I've never done this before, so so much is new. I have read about other people living their lives. I have read about reading about other people living their lives. but to live this one; this is singular, wondrous, confusing.

isn't this wild, I wonder? for everyone who happens to be dead, they've all done this before! they've all lived a life before. for everyone who isn't born yet - they're all reading the lonely planet guide to life. but everyone alive is going through a phase of life they have never lived in before!

it bowls me over, to think about this. what newness we are living in. what constant reinvention. the belief that the self is a string is the belief that we can be a knot.

I am not a string. I am a point in time.

nobody else has done this before. nobody else living has ever lived their life before. there are others who have been thirty-six, yes. but there is nobody else who has been me.

my task is to listen and research as much as I need to, understanding that this is my roaring rocket to sit on, launching into the future, feeling the hum of the engine underneath.


what I wish to be is a lightning rod. what want is to lightning to strike me, or rather, to be attuned to the weather, to stand up on top of the roof as it rains and listen to what emerges. I can't help but think of an us, that we're all in this together. I want a big family. I want to be the co-captain of a ship.

I have been.

without my ship, who am I?

I want to be a seer.

I want to see what's out there.