Dadeumi

“the sound evoked peaceful sorrow or sorrowful peace…
with the regular beat of the safety, the solidity, the unbroken guard…”

The sound of Dadeumi. The regular beat of a pair of wooden bats pounding the folded fabric overlaid on the sturdy stone, a way of ironing unique to Korea popular in the 17-18 century.

I often think that I might be the last generation holding some specific sensory memories related to the things disappearing over time in my culture. Dadeumi must have gone even before my elementary school years in most of my country. When I visited my paternal grandmother’s house far south of the Korean peninsula during the summer, there was a Dadeumi, the stone base and two wooden bats in the small corner room. I don’t remember if I saw anyone actually doing it, but I heard the sound of Dadeumi occasionally. The rhythmic beating sound in the early evening evoked some kind of peaceful sorrow or sorrowful peace, putting me into study sleep. The beautiful sound generated by the everyday chore of women in the past generation, metaphorically related to a woman waiting for her husband’s return home late at night. I can still clearly hear the regular beat, almost felt like the weightless sound of the cautious longing of a woman dissolved in her demanding labor.

It must have been a small world to the women back then, like the moon’s orbit around the earth compared to the other stars. I wonder what she must have thought, felt, and not felt, when she beat the clothes of her husband, in-laws, children, draped over the smooth stone with the bats for the long hours. The palms must have gotten red and sore when she picked up this chore for the first time. Then, her hands got tougher over the years of her housework, showing some calluses that hardened many things in her life. I wonder if her shoulders got stronger or ached more over time with this work.

There is a unique word in Korean, which is untranslatable in any other language, “Haan”, I think it was the strong desire for a life that was unlived by all these women, reduced by the cultural circumstance in their lives. It is sad but beautiful because they took this path with pride and tried to live this term given to them as best they could, even though their unfulfilled lives solidified somewhere inside, generating the ringing sound that made the listener gaze long into the empty space or on the verge of tears with no particular reason. But the regular beat always brought the safety, the solidity, the unbroken guard of the life that our past women held for their family, sacrificing all the desires of tasting, drinking, gulping down their own lives.

Sometimes, I close my eyes groping back for the beautiful sound of Dadeumi, and feel lucky that I can only imagine this sound now with a little glitter of nostalgia over the things gone forever. The stars had burst to all directions of the universe, including the little moons in every household of the past.

<June 5th, 2019>

Sunday evening after the rain

It was quiet as if no one was at home or everyone was at home when I walked with my dog this evening. We didn’t encounter a single human or a car passing by.

But there were the deers, the bunnies, and the daises with their white greeting faces. The pink and white peonies dropped their heads low by the all-day heavy rain. The wet grass looked exuberant fuming out its life energy. The small stream gurgled with a full belly.

The birds chirped and the owls hooted to the unknowns before dark. Nature without any perceiver around… only minding its own existence including me. I felt one day in my hand… almost touchable. 

Fall

I loved A.’s poem. Her simple sentence tells a lot. How much she misses L.

I could feel her loss from the quiver of her voice and the pauses before the words that might pause her heart for a second, but I felt it with a bit of jealousy clouding up inside my belly. The immense size of her loss is directly proportional to the immense size of her love. Have I ever committed to loving someone that much? Have I ever dared to fall right my face down? Haven’t I always calculated the back-up plan first even before any step taken?

It’s a blessing that one person can love someone that much at the cost of the painful grief over the loss. But she did, she did love someone with her all being and more. That is just too foreign and too beautiful to me.

I haven’t done my worst mistake in life yet. I still have a chance.
Fall. Fall hard. Fall face down. Fall in love and get real messy.

The Absolutely Visceral Moments of Aliveness

“you… the beautiful mess of struggle…”

scooping the moments of being into my hollow chest to fill the gap that has been felt like a bottomless chasm for my life… I put something in, the ecstatic visceral moments of aliveness.

Sometimes, life is absolutely beautiful to some absurdly non-realistic people.

Two Time Zones

Another clock tick-tocked inside for the last ten years.

But, surely, her other clock faded inside her. She often forgot the time in the East. Whatever, she is here. The night is the night, the day is the day, the sun is the sun, the moon is the moon, the afternoon is the afternoon, the morning is the morning, whatever time is now, now is now. She is one, not a half, not split, not divided, one, one and the only, in her life, for her life.

<May 29th, 2019>

The shower, the oasis, the rainbow

Longing and yearning.
She has integrated these into her life somehow over time. She might be a masochist who desires something that is unattainable and secretly enjoys the emotions generated by the strong urge rising at the bottom of her gut. An emotional masochist, she’d say it.

One of her friends said that she should look for something available, should settle in the available, in the possible, in the practical. But she is looking for an oasis… the thirst, the intense thirst is where she is at… waiting for the oasis, whether it is the real or the mirage… she doesn’t know, she just yearns for that moment of quenching her thirst with the cool water of a miracle standing on the hot sand under the blazing sun.

A bear came to her dream.
She reached, touched, and leaned herself on that surely grounding massive thing, which has four legs that can give her certainty, safety. On which there is a space that she can rest her body when she needs to. Reachable, touchable, possible, available, practical… well… she knows, still longing for enchantment, magic, and the moments that will sweep her feet off the ground and take her breath away. The shower, the oasis, the rainbow.

Hearts in spring

Bleeding hearts.
What an unusual name for a flower! K. sent me pictures of the bleeding hearts in her garden, red, pink, white ones, the droplet of petal hanging to each heart-shaped flower. They were beautiful and got their names right, I thought.

Thinking of hearts,
all hearts are bloody, full of blood, pumping it out to the veins, to the vessels far away in the body. That is what the heart is for, but the heart sits on the immense symbolic place, linking our brain to all kinds of emotions, especially to the painful ones… heartbroken, heart torn, heart ripped apart, which is impossible in the real body.

Even in the unbearably painful emotional distress or pain, the heart is intact and does its job. So the person, who might feel heartbroken, is alive and keeps living. I wonder if there is any joy or distress that a heart cannot hold, some emotions that the heart bursts open and sprays the blood all over. It seems that the body just does its work regardless of the mind’s crazy dancing, bumping, screaming, twisting, rolling all over giving out tantrums, until it finally calms down and listens to the heart, that certainty,  that regular beat playing the base of the music for one’s life.