Here is the third new member of the Kimchi Mama sisterhood, Rikki from Optimistic Slacker! Please welcome her to the fold!
Love, your Kimchi Mamas
Some nights ago, I had my first ever guided meditation session. I am not religious or deeply spiritual, just a silly girl who's a little lost & looking for direction... maybe even some solace. We had a discussion on how those who cause you pain in life may actually be Buddhas helping guide you along your spiritual path by teaching valuable lessons, like patience. Maybe the dude who cut you off in traffic this morning was actually a Buddha and he felt perfectly justified in cutting you off because he knew it could help you to be a better person. As everyone was contemplating this, all I could hear was me-ma in my head "he was justified in being an ass? I'll show him!" The closing meditation "object" was I will always cherish every living being... It was a bit surreal. Every time I made it through this thought, I'd envision me-ma slapping someone upside the head or telling them what's what. Cherish. Ha.
I'd be going along, attempting to be all peaceful-like, and then she would appear to me - what are you getting from this? why are doing this in front of other people? who is that guy? what does he know? you look ridiculous - you shouldn't look ridiculous in front others... It was an exercise in pushing aside the anger & embarrassment and giving into vulnerability; this was quite contrary to everything I'd been brought up to believe!
Me-ma (my ummah) is a full blooded Kimchi Mama, the extra spicy variety, and, apparently, personal Buddha to all those in her wake. It would be polite to say that she is a bit of a firecracker. She is pretty sure that vulnerability = weakness = not allowed. My pops was in the military, stationed in Seoul, when he fell in love with the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. All was lovely - they got married, had me, and we lived happily ever after, until...
We came to the States when I was almost 2 and spitting out Korean like a champ! Unfortunately, as it turned out, none of the kids around understood me, so they would laugh at the funny sounds coming out of my mouth & I, ignorant to their attempted cruelty, laughed with them. Me-ma was so upset by this situation. Her knee-jerk reaction was to make a blanket statement that we would no longer speak Korean, we would be American & speak English (well, everyone but her anyway). So my sisters & I grew up not speaking Korean. As adults, we are able to speak a few choice words or phrases, but are effectively useless in Korean conversation. People were Korean around us, but we never were. We were just little people then, so I imagine intended/unintended exclusion was relatively easy.
The portrayal of what it meant to be "Korean" in my childhood wasn't exactly positive. The fact that I'm a half-breed made it even more difficult; we went to a very full-Korean church and it was made quite clear to me that I was that thing that was not like the others. When I finally left the church, me-ma was rather upset. I tried to explain to her what it was like to be there, but she never understood. I was an outsider and became apathetic towards my "other" people.
Until the last few years, I had no interest in "being" Korean (other than eating some really good eats). The Korean blood that coursed through my veins was more than enough for me. And then, like I am finding so many others do, Yobo & I had our first child and a disenfranchised heritage seemed a wee uncouth. Since the birth of the Moose (our strong like ox & beautiful like tractor daughter), I have been researching many things Korean – social & political ideologies, pop culture, history, current events, pouring over the blogs of others and, finally, finding a community in which I actually BELONG. Now I am trying to get back in touch with my inner Korean; find her, nuture her, reassure her that there is more to being Korean than previously believed, let her know that it is ALL good. Thanks all for unwittingly joining me in this journey and I really hope that I (and all Kimchi Mamas everywhere) can help you on yours.