Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Lesson in Laziness from the Korean New Year

This is the fourth blog in my series: 
6 Things Robbing You of a More Meaningful Life.
If you want to start at the beginning click here:

This past Monday our family had no Monday-Funday. It happens from time to time. The kids were off school for President's Day, and I came home from work tired and not in the mood to do anything. It was one of those days you just want to crash. Actually, I felt this way most of the week. Maybe it was the bitter cold. Maybe it was the house full of stir-crazy kids who were acting like a pack of caged squirrels. The bottom line is I just wanted to sit on a couch and eat anything in sight.

Throughout this week Patience continued to remind me that Thursday was the Korean New Year, Seoullal, and she wanted to do something for it. We both agreed early on in the adoption to do our best to keep as much of Wesley's heritage and culture as we could. But like I said, this week, I just didn't want to do anything. I reminded Patience we had already celebrated New Years, and pretty much told her if she wanted to do something she would have to be the one to do it. Mr. Adventure was sitting this one out.

I started thinking about my attitude around Thursday. I began to question what makes me act this way sometimes. I think it's a healthy thing to do. To step back and examine the reason you act a certain way. I think a well rounded person takes the time to figure out why they do the things they do. The older I get, the healthier I desire to be; not only physically, but mentally, spiritually, and relationally. So on the drive into work that frigid morning in the dark, I turned off the radio and began to ask myself some personal questions.

Why do I so often shoot down others ideas, but expect them to support mine one hundred percent?

Why do I sometimes get in these moods where I just don't care about anything?

Why do I let opportunities pass by without making the most of them?

These were the kind of questions bubbling up in the quiet of the cab of my car. Honestly, I traced the answers back to a lot of different things: selfishness, comfort, tiredness, and apathy. But there was one thing I had to own up to. One reason I did not like to even acknowledge about myself.

I am lazy.

That three word sentence is hard for me to even type, because I want so bad to believe it is not true. Yet, if I am taking an candid look at myself, I cannot ignore the facts. The reason I was acting the way I was, the reason I did not want to do anything for Seollal, the reason I found myself in such a funk, was because I was being lazy. I was tired and I didn't feel like a having any party.

This time of self reflection and prayer actually began to turn my attitude around. The rest of Thursday I spent brainstorming ideas for the Korean New Year later that night. At lunch I found a website that explained in detail how to decorate for the special occasion. I called Patience and told her to go through with her plan of cooking a traditional Korean meal. I apologized for raining on her parade, and explained I wanted to make the most of the evening. She was gracious, as usual, and let me know she was planning to run to the Korean Market after Wesley awoke from his nap.

I usually stay over for work, but decided to cut out right at 2:30. I made my way to Hobby Lobby where I found most of the items on my list for decorations. Patience called while I was there, and I told her I had a surprise for everybody. When I got home, Patience and the kids had just gotten back from the Market. She was marinating the Bulgogi (Beef) and I nearly tripped over the large bag of rice in the floor.

Calling the pack of squirrels into the kitchen, I read aloud all of the traditions and decorations of Seollal. They jumped up and down with excitement. Traditionally you are supposed to first clean your home thoroughly, as it symbolizes a new beginning for the new year. With all week off of school, our home looked like a toy store that had been hit by a mild earthquake. Still, we cleaned the best we could. First we hung the red lanterns and strung up colorful string lights in the kitchen above the table.

Notice JulieAnna's photobomb

The next step was to cut up colorful pieces of paper and hang a string from the top of a doorway. The paper is for your family and guests to write their wishes for the new year. Our only guests for the evening were my parents. We all wrote out our wishes and hung them from the string.

JulieAnna decorated the table. Each place setting came with Korean chopsticks. In the center of the table we set out our handmade tea set Patience and I bought at a market while on our first trip to Korea. In one of the bowls we put oranges (clementines were all we had) which represent wealth and luck for the new year.

With traditional Korean music playing in the background, we dressed our kids in Hanbok. These are traditional Korean outfits given to us as a gift from Wesley's foster mother. So for the occasion, the children dawned these beautifully ornate outfits. 

Then came the meal: Bulgogi and Korean rice, along with a few Korean sauces. It was delicious! 

After dinner Patience brewed some tea we bought in Korea, and we ate the clementines. 

Lastly, we made fans, practiced writing Korean symbols, and even played a Korean board game called Yutnori. The kids had a blast.

We used Korean coins (Won) for our pieces in the board game.
After my parents had left and we put the kids to bed, I leaned in and kissed Patience on the forehead. 

"That was a lot of fun," I said with a smile.

"I am so glad we did it," she replied.

I was glad too. I was glad I did not let my own laziness stop me from making the most of the occasion. I was glad I went to Hobby Lobby and spent $15 on lanterns. I was glad I dug out some Christmas lights and Korean tea set from the closet. None of these things took that much effort, and the reward of the memories we made together was more than worth it.

I know we all get tired from time to time. I know the winter season can be long, and the close quarters can start to wear on our nerves. I also know we make a lot of excuses for our own laziness. Well, I guess I shouldn't speak for you, but I know I do. There is an importance to rest. God created our bodies to require sleep each day. We cannot function properly if we never stop. But there is a difference between a balanced life of rest, and spending all day every day doing nothing at all. 

And here's the funny thing about laziness. Usually when you fight back; when you get up and go for that bike ride, or you put down the remote and throw a ball with your kids, you are always glad you did it. I have never gone on a hike, or watched a sunset, or played hide and seek in the back yard and regretted it. Most of my regrets come from the times I took easy street and parked my rear on the couch, only to waste a day of channel surfing or gazing like a zombie into my phone. Life is so brief and so beautiful. There are opportunities all around us. Adventures just waiting to be explored. Nothing is stopping you or me from squeezing every drop of meaning out of this day except for ourselves. 

I hung my wish on the string for Seoullal on Thursday. I want to grow this year. I want to grow physically, spiritually, and relationally. But just like an indoor plant, growing requires work. It requires watering and time in the sun and pruning. I am starting to see that I cannot grow and be lazy at the same time. Laziness is the weed that creeps up and chokes out a healthy life. And I am sick of living life like that. I want an abundant and meaningful existence, so from now on I am going to try to stop letting my laziness rob me of growing into what God might have in store for me. 

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