Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Existentialist Experience of a Non-Existentialist

If (God's) help is not a metaphor, neither are (His) commands. If (He) can answer when you call, then (He) can speak without your asking. If you can go to (Him), (He) can come to you. - C.S. Lewis

There is nothing certain, nothing except the nothingness of everything that is incomprehensible to me, and the greatness of something incomprehensible but all-important! -Leo Tolstoy


It’s been nearly 2 years since I first came to Korea. The time has gone by quickly, and many things have changed. This weekend I visited my friends in Suji. I enjoy visiting my friends, but really, the thing that draws me back to the Seoul area is skateboarding. The Jon’s and I had a great session on Friday night in Suji. The place isn’t an awesome place for skateboarding, but we had a great session nevertheless. On Saturday, they wanted so badly to go to Suwon. I wanted not to go to Suwon with equal emotional intensity.
Suwon seems to deflate all excitedness I have for skateboarding. It would be no different this time. Upon getting off the bus, an unidentifiable stench invaded my nostrils, causing me to gag. Ah yes, Suwon, the city of a thousand smells. After our noses got used to the symbolic miasma, we skated to the skatepark – the reason Johnny T and Aussie Jon wanted to come here. As I skated to the gate, I saw the first sign of how this day would go; the gate was locked. It had begun; Suwon had begun to strangle the joy out of skateboarding.

We threw our boards over the fence and hopped it, but when Aussie Jon jumped on his board, his front wheels came off – he had snapped his kingpin. Since we didn’t know of any skateshops in Suwon, AJ would have to borrow one of our boards while we were resting. He and John began skating the mini-pipe. All of a sudden I heard groaning and exasperations. John’s board had somehow ended up under the big pipe, square in the middle. They spent about 20 minutes trying to get it out. I ate kimbap and laughed.
When the boys had their fill of this joy-stealing place, we rode on. We decided to stop at a place we saw on the way. There was a nice little 3-stair here, and we had some fun at it – until Suwon struck again! John and I decided to do the 3 stair at the same time, figuring it would make for a cool video. The problem was that the stairway was narrow, so we weren’t very confident. John fell and somehow hurt his back. We skated a little while longer, then left.
We were heading to Bundang to go to the skate shop, and then do the ‘Bundang Trek,’ but time was running short. We were supposed to meet my friend Min-Ho for dinner at 6:30, and didn’t have enough time to skate and shower. We decided to skate Ori, which is much closer to Suji, instead. I’m glad we did.
Although I didn’t feel much like skating, the energy in the air refreshed my bones and restored my joy of skateboarding. I was landing my kickflips and varial flips consistently, I pulled ollies and 180’s off the big 3 without missing. I decked out a tre flip on a small bank smoothly. I shove-it’d the big 3 and even did the 7 stair. I was feeling it again! Then we went across the street and it got even better. There were these little wavy pieces of marble that are usually covered with water, but weren’t this time. They were so fun to skate. Then Suwon extended its long fingers to Ori for one final blow. AJ snapped Johnny T’s deck. He felt terrible, and that signaled the end of the Ori skate session. We headed back to Suji, and made plans with AJ to meet later in Itaewon, and then skate Yongsan.
As we got to John’s door, he started looking frantically in his bag for something. ‘Where are my keys,’ he asked, as if I would know. The losing of his keys was the official sign-off for the night, as well as the beginning of many phone calls to cancel plans, pick locks, and make keys. We hung out with AJ, Britt, Stef, Ruth, and a guy named Jody the rest of the night.

The next day I woke up, had some toast and met Min-Ho in Gangnam. We had tea and juice and a nice conversation. He’s a nice man and I enjoy having conversations with him. After that I headed to the bus station, thinking that no more excitement would be coming my way.
Then came the bus ride home. For some reason this ride had a profound impact on me. Looking out the window at the rivers, rice fields, villages, and mist-covered mountains, I could feel the presence of God in my soul. It comforted me. The beauty of His creation has always had a quiet, peace-giving effect on me. I sat there on the bus, enjoying God’s creation and listening to Him speak to me. I could hear Him telling me that this is the end of the road for a part of me. Some part of me which I had previously deemed important to the make-up of who I am would be departing from my inner framework. Fittingly, the song ‘The End of an Era’ by Hopesfall began to play. This was a song which I listened to frequently at the beginning of my stay in Korea. I sat back and enjoyed the moment, enjoyed the peace and the reverential feelings that overtook my soul.
These moments come infrequently in a man’s life, yet they leave their mark on his soul. My internal being was changed. We grow physically not of our own will, but by the natural design of God. In such a manner, there are moments of internal growth that do not come by our own will, but by the perfect design of God. I’m not sure what changed in me, but something did. I thank God for the change, and look forward to following His leading in the future.


1 comment:

George Lenhart said...

JEFF,
Great musings, as well as a great little story on your re-visit to Suji. Mom & I enjoy your blog. Keep it up.
Dad