“There’s an Opening …”

You can fill an opening. Or you can go through an opening. These are actually two very different openings. I have experience with both.

When I realized there was a position open at a school in Seoul, I imagined the prospects of both excitement and relief. The thought of finally getting a chance to live in a big city thrilled me. The notion of getting rid of most of our belongings tempted me with the beauty of the simplicity it would yield.

From The Guardian, 2011: "Volunteers make kimchi to donate to needy people in front of Seoul City Hall, South Korea. About 2,000 women made 270 tons of kimchi. A pungent dish made with cabbage, other vegetables and chili sauce, kimchi is the most popular traditional food in Korea."

From The Telegraph, 2011: “Volunteers make kimchi to donate to needy people in front of Seoul City Hall, South Korea. About 2,000 women made 270 tons of kimchi. A pungent dish made with cabbage, other vegetables and chili sauce, kimchi is the most popular traditional food in Korea.”

Life itself had gotten really complicated. Relationships, planting a church, homeschooling kids, running a small business: none of these things by themselves were simple to navigate, and navigating them simultaneously was less simple still for me and my wife.

A job opening in Korea meant less complication.

A job opening initially meant, in our case, a chance to earn enough money doing mostly enjoyable work with enough time away from that work to explore an exciting city, country, and region. It meant a chance to send the kids to a great school, which de-complicated my wife’s life, especially.

And that is what the past 5 months has indeed been. Less complicated by far.

“Look! There’s an opening! We’ll fill that slot. We’ll swap this crazy life for that really attractive and simple life.”

This opening has been filled.

But there’s a second sort of opening.

This sort of opening isn’t filled. It is not applied for. It can’t be plugged into. It’s not a job-plus-time-off.

Rather, it’s an opening the other side of which yields a new, unforeseen, and perhaps complicated life. This opening presents itself as a summons to walk the long and hard road with a promise attached that there’s a good end. It’s fraught with danger, not from the surroundings, but from the souls one finds on the other side, volatile souls that will look your soul in the eye and dare you to not turn away from them.

We are just about to head to Thailand for vacation. Though I’ve been working for 5 months, I see this coming vacation as the vacation to cap off the vacation I’ve been on since arriving in Seoul. A vacation, in a way, to end all vacations.

Five months after filling an opening, I’m being called in through an opening. Double-dog-dared to start looking souls in the eye and to allow the eyes of souls to look mine in the eye. Summoned back to a way of being-in-the-world that would please good ‘ole Heidegger because it reckons with death by living in light of it.

A job opening attracted me to vacate a complex life and manage a new rhythm balancing work and leisure. A summons calls me to vacate vacation and enter, once again, but really for the first time, through an opening into a world of souls. The first opening allows me to be either on or off. The second opening challenges me to be either in or out. 

I want in.

I think.

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