‘Jaysis lad, we’ll be turning 30 in a couple of years, and what do we have to show for it?’

A few weeks ago I found myself stumbling into this pretty somber conversation with Wildsey over Skype.

I didn’t really know what to say back to him at the time, but sensing his mood I decided to take the lighthearted approach and make fun of myself.

‘Sure lad, look at me. Chances are- in two years- I’ll still have no fixed abode, no permanent job, no wife, no kids, no car, and no dog. I have no idea where I’ll be- or what I’ll be doing- but I’ll more than likely be spending another birthday away from home. Never mind a 5-year-plan- not even a 2-year-plan- no story. How f*ckin sad is that!’

I may have exaggerated some of my ‘life truths’ for comic effect- but it worked all the same- and we had a good laugh about it.

In retrospect, and even though we were joking at the time, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

금산, 순창. Gold Mountain, Sunchang.

Gaining Perspective. Gold Mountain, Sunchang.

I have mentioned this before in previous posts so I won’t go into it in too much detail- but I am happy not knowing what exactly lies ahead. Just having that feeling that I am on the right path is enough for me.

Our little conversation did however get me to thinking; what exactly is success- and what does it mean to be successful?

I think we all have our own ideas of what success means.

For me- rather than success existing in the physical form of possessions and accomplishments and such- I think the concept is spiritual.

If I can wake up in the morning feeling content, knowing that I am fulfilling my calling and pursuing my passion- while continuing to develop, learn, and grow- that is success for me.

One of the most influential, multi-faceted wordsmiths of modern times put it very simply.

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.

– Bob Dylan

I wanted to find out what some of my students thought, so I asked them to write about their dreams for the future. I produced a writing template for the lesson, and on it I included a fill-in-the-blank sentence.

Here are just some of their responses.

Note: These are from the high school 2nd grade students- they are 16 years old- and I didn’t edit any of their writing.

Success is……

  • to be famous makeup artist
  • happiness and dream come true
  • living a happy life
  • getting worth
  • rob a bank
  • happy
  • go to girlfriend house

A Peaceful Flow

Kim Boh Seong (김보성) sits quietly at the back in every class, and keeps himself to himself. He appears to have a pretty unperturbed approach to life, and he is maybe a little unconventional in comparison to his classmates; he idolizes Eminem, he wears black sweatshirts over his uniform (with pretty racy slogans), black snapback hats, and dark sunglasses.

His dream is to be a tattoo artist- and to my surprise- he already has some tattoos of his own. He seems to be very comfortable in his own skin for such a young age- which I can appreciate- it’s not easy being a teenager.

We actually take the same bus to and from school, and he always has time to talk to me- in English- both inside and outside of the classroom. He’s a very pleasant young man, and I enjoy chatting with him.

One day while waiting for the bus I saw that he had his big black hoodie on- which had the words ‘F*ck You’ plastered on the front- and his hood was up.

I made the mistake of asking him if he was cold, to which he stared at me- almost in disbelief- through his dark sunglasses, and replied;

‘No, it’s style.’

I had a little chuckle to myself when I realized just how lame I must have sounded- before crawling back into my box.

Anyway, my favorite response came courtesy of Boh Seong.

I smiled when I read it, and gave him an appreciative pat on the back.

Often I find myself stopping in my tracks- and perhaps thinking a little differently- as a result of something a student has done or said in the classroom.

This was another one of those eye-opening, stimulating moments afforded to me by one of my students.

Always learning- and developing- along this path that was set out for me.

Success is nothing. You think success- that is success.

– 김보성