It’s easier to remember the craziness in other peoples’ lives. It’s harder to see the craziness in our own. Perhaps it’s because we are naturally given to thinking our own experiences are somewhat normal; after all, we did live them already. It feels like “old news.”
Thus, it’s often our friends’ ridiculous stories and not our own that we recount at parties; and dramas we heard of down the grapevine seem more scandalous than our own.
I sometimes wonder if people would be more in awe of life if they remembered their own was filled with inspiring material. Given the ease with which we tend to see such interesting “coincidences” and strokes of great fortuity in those around us, it only makes sense they exist in us, too, right?
I’m trying to keep my eyes open…
This year’s visiting scholar and 2011-2012 Koret Fellow of Stanford’s Korean Studies Program was Park Joon-Woo, 박준우, and one of my professors. He’s the former South Korean ambasssador to the UN. As the quarter rolled on, I realized that he might know my grandfather, my 외할아버지, a former South Korean diplomat and ambassador.
I asked my professor after class:
“Professor Park, I was wondering if you ever knew a man named Kew Il Lee, 이규일…?”
“Ah, well I had been wondering, because he was my grandfather!!!”
[moment of total surprise on Professor’s face]
I continued: “He was the ambassador to – ”
“Yemen! He was the ambassador to Yemen.”
So, I’m laughing at this point, obviously. “Did you ever work with him??”
“Yes, in 1978.”
(May I also insert here my constant, maybe ill-deserved, surprise at the memory abilities of these grandfather figures in my life…)
This dialogue was not transcribed word for word, but that was the gist of it. My professor then proceeded to tell me to relay the message onto my grandfather.
Then, after class, I proceeded to ask if I could take a picture with him, which I will now be sending to my grandfather in question.
I just have to say it: this kind of stuff makes me so happy.
P.S. ** March 17, 2012 ** I have just read a highly relevant article, sent to me a few days ago by the exact friend who inspired what I wrote three posts ago. Here is that article, about the “awesomeness of life” and being overenthusiastic.