My parents are missionaries in Taiwan from Korea. They came to Taiwan right after they got married. Within their first year, I decided to make an entrance, but they didn’t have healthcare in Taiwan so umma flew all the way to Korea by herself to give birth to me, then flew all the way back to Taiwan when I was just a few month old. When I was a couple of years old, we returned to Korea then re-returned to Taiwan when I was 6. We’ve been here ever since. I’ve learned to fly before I learned how to walk. I refuse to pinpoint where exactly I’m “from”.
I spoke Korean at home, picked up Chinese at the local kindergarten, binged on Korean books at the tiny Korean elementary school that I attended until the fifth grade, then transitioned to an English speaking environment when I started at Morrison Academy.
“What language do you think in?” Many have asked. Linguists talk about mother tongue and first language but they don’t seem to factor in the attachment a person feels towards a language.
Although I grew up with books in Hangul and BoPoMoFo-s, it is during high school where I learned how to write essays and reflections — some call it survival instinct, I call it adaptability.
I also went through an extremely emotional phase (achem teenagers). That is when I relied on the cheesy YA novels and the encouragements of my roomie to carry on and become better. Reading was helpful. Listening felt wise. Writing felt therapeutic. I poured my heart onto notebook pages after pages writing imaginary letters to depression, myself, people I couldn’t talk to anymore, my parents, and God. Writing helped give voice to my pain and I could start to see myself climbing up from the deep spiral I fell down in.
Better is not a one time thing. I don’t know where and when but the process was grueling. I felt braver. I was coming to a better place — the being and the coming felt good.
Words can easily build me up and tear me down. I’ve always loved songs because of the lyrics more than their melodies. I’d write out quotes from movies and stick them on my wall. I’ve feasted on words and have cried over many. After all, God created the universe with words. We are words stuff.
Even though I’ve passed the stage of scribbling dramatic soliloquies, I still write. I know there is power in the words we speak and the sound waves they create. I write because it is the easiest way for me to feel my heart and to learn my head. I write because God talks to me loud and clear through the words I write. He speaks in the same sound waves as I type these words.
Word waves are pieced together here. They are not masterpieces nor ex-nihilo but they are inspired.