Monday, March 23, 2009

I am still learning

The Cornman banner (a field, azure, bearing a man passant, holding an ear of corn, or, and a cup of coffee, sable) is at half-staff today. Hami Mami's at Club That is closing. (Club That is a funky little bar that's a major hangout for expats; Hami Mami's is the brunch restaurant on the ground floor.) I can't overstate how much Hami's has been my emotional home base downtown; I went there often for comfort food and the homey atmosphere, the Christmas dinner was there, the Writers' Group met there, Hami arranged for me to adopt my cats. I don't know if I can find another such place downtown. It's been my Central Perk.

Speaking of Club That, last night Joanna and I went there to see the local production of The Vagina Monologues. I went just because a couple of my friends from the Writers' Group were in the cast, but I'm glad I did. For a local production, the performers were terrific, and the play is alternately funny, moving, and horrifying. The proceeds went to the elderly Comfort Women in Seoul, so it was a good cause. Oh, and the waffle with scoops of pomegranite and cabernet saugignon ice cream I had afterward? Good stuff.

I spoke up for another good cause on Facebook. The Daegu Friendship Club is taking a field trip to see Korean bullfighting. It's a series of bulls fighting each other, rarely involving death, but with a fair amount of blood; it's an ancient tradition being promoted by the government as a gambling attraction. I posted, hey, if you care about animals, please don't support this. (I quoted an International Herald Tribune article that talked about the handlers binding young bulls' horns with wire to shape them, feeding the bulls live octopus for protein, and giving them soju [liquor] and sharpening their horns just before bouts.)

That got a bit of a discussion going; I found an ally and was attacked several times ad hominem by one guy who called me sanctimonious and belittled my commitment to my "cause du jour", saying that if I was a hypocrite if I didn't go and take undercover pictures and send them to PETA. Because, you know, Koreans care so much about what PETA says. The outcome was that I finally posted that he could impugn away, I was out of this petty squabble, and he sent me email apologizing for getting carried away.

It was a kind of test for me that I guess I mostly failed. My spirituality has been deepening lately. I don't think any religion has it just right, because human religions can't; I've learned things from Christianity, Taoism, Buddhism, New Thought, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, and any other source that rings true to me, and I listen each day to Marianne Williamson's five-minute podcast. I'm content with what I believe and how much I don't know, and more positive and peaceful at heart than I've ever been.

The little beaded bracelet I bought at Donghwasa Temple has been a great help; when I find myself getting worked up about little things, which is too often because I have a lot of anger below the surface, I touch the bracelet, take a deep breath, and calm down. But it didn't work with the bullfight conversation; that really got under my skin. But as Michelangelo said at age 86, "I am still learning."

And Tiki's sleeping a foot from my hand and two feet from the electric heater, the morning is calm, and the spring sun is coming in my window.

I think I'm here to learn to trust and to have a peaceful heart, and I am still learning.

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