Memoir: One lives with names, and names live as their own.

Names are rather dangerous than tattoos. The latter appears only on skin that fades away, but names, they appear on every paper one encounters and are to be yelled by every mouth one loves. 

Some people live in time, others live in places. And there are another people who live in names. As one of those people mentioned, here come my stories. This writing makes me recall back days which I constantly modify along with my identity as any reader will notice while reading. For me writing about my life, it becomes again another process to modify what has happened though my early days. None of these is a lie. Those are just a collage of my memories.

This is a story of my life that I want to arrange to leave as an evidence before my 30: a milestone that probably means the half way so far of my being in this life as with this personality. It would be a lie if I say that I can remember the white hospital ceiling when coming out from my mother’s womb, not because I am such a bad memory keeper but because it is just nearly impossible as a baby to develop such ability. maybe it was a light that was given to me for this life, or it was a breath that gave me life as in Bible quotes. so writing back days, here observed, would be as blurred as such light or breath.

Chapter 1: Mikael. Spirituality.

When I was born, I was named Mikael for my catholic family influence. Everything changed because of that name, such my brother also named Gabriel after me. Paper presented upon me, and I was to live with Catholic values. Like it or not, I’ve heard quotes from the Bible and now I’m familiar with those written values of the Bible, which have become a big part of my life angle. But rather, it didn’t dominate me as a whole, since my parents didn’t call me with that name in front of my grandparents who were Buddhist, and also I’ve spent many days of my childhood with an aunt who was deeply Christian, who either didn’t call me by the name Mikael. For me it has become a mixture of religions that I faced growing older, and thanks to this duality of somewhat western values and eastern values my spirituality has formed mixed: meditation becomes my prayer to God who is an absence between singularity and complexity.

I personally think that Christianity is about recalling the original sin, recalling its shame on humanity over and over again. We all were born out of the originated sin, and the emptiness of oneself is to lead to pure evil. So we need God to fill the gap to live a joyful life and afterlife. But at the same time, Buddhism has taught me the otherwise. We should empty our thoughts and minds, liberating us from all other distractions. We should forget about the shame and when one reaches the freedom status, one becomes the realisation. These two contradictories always hit each other, inside of me, and I was the small self hurt by those two big sharpen arrows.

Sundays overlapped upon me. The ritual repeats over and over, and it became a symbol. I was to sing at the alter. I was to rite quotes on the alter. I was to eat the body and drink the blood. Symbolic gestures were unified and I was to recall all shames and sins every week to receive God to forgive everything. I sang in Korean, I quoted in Korean. I murmured but I was to at least mutter. Once in Seville, Spain, I was passing to the main cathedral. I was walking the glorious hall of history and spirituality, I heard hymns in Korean. In Spain the song was sang in Korean and I could understand every words of it since it was what I used to sing as well. Sunlight broke through mosaic glasses dressed up in colours. It was glorified human voices devoting to the universe. As I mentioned, Sundays overlapped constantly until I quit going to the cathedral every Sunday. And since I was out from the Catholic environment, I stopped using the name Mikael. It was a given name, but I didn’t give myself that name. I do appreciate how that influence formed me as an observer of two different religions and more, but the name Mikael had lived short until he suicided.

In one day in cathedral, the priest made a point of freedom. What is the freedom? What are we trying to get to be free? But we never are free from the life. We are bonded to life, and inside that frame we desire to find fractures of freedom. Pieces of puzzle were the ones we were in search of. Jobs, stress, violence, uncertainty of future and etc are the main obstacles and we try to be free from those, which we don’t admit that those are actually what make life as life. The point the priest tried to make was that the the self we call God is itself freedom, and we try to reach that freedom which zigzags between life and death: the absolute freedom, the absolute free self.

So the death came to my mind, at the time I was in basic training of the infantry. So many bullets and grenades were presented and it was easy to grab one to be exploded. Buddhism also has taught us to erase ego. Personal difference is what makes one have ego, and erasing every difference one stays in similarity of course: the basic practice between monks to shave their hair and to wear same coloured uniform is one example. No differentiated ego becomes the whole as one realises the differentiated self is the just a fracture of pride. Killing one ego to become no more than a man, was therefore a suicide. I grabbed the grenade. The captain was counting though the speaker for the soldiers to practice to throw the grenades to explode. I just hold the grenade after counting in my range.

Chapter 2: Donghyun. Originality.

The first scene that I recall of my childhood is when I was in front of a fire, in the farm at night, in a southernmost island of Korea. I was throwing some wood sticks into fire to keep myself warm. I remember my brother and my aunt being there too with me, trying to take out potatoes wrapped by aluminum foil. it was a moment that I recall as a canvas: all black background with some coloured dots. one in red, three in skinned and some yellow dots as baked potatoes.

I spent most of my childhood in the island located between Korean peninsula and Japanese island. Once in a big holiday (Asian thanksgiving, if it may call) we were sent to bow to elder members of family. There was a Japanese grandfather and I could manage myself dialoging with him. His spouse, the grandmother who spoke Korean, was there as a bridge whenever we had problem communicating. After all, I bring up this experience as to mix my ethnicity -which is not a lie at all since none of us was a pure born, and since Korea shares distinct race with that of Japan-, and modifying my own ethnicity from pure to mixed blood, I felt my appearance and behavioural difference justified.

What difference are we talking? First of all, I do have lots of facial hair. When I was young I had distinct amount of leg hair and for that I couldn’t change pants in front of other classmates before physical education class, out of fear that they would make fun out of me. Even in summer I preferred to wear long pants in PE, excusing myself that I’d lost my short uniform. It was nearly when I became 22 that I started to wear shorts in public realising that no one really cares but just teases out of their short temper. It surely was a miraculous transition for me: that the comfort one enjoys comes from letting go what others might think of you.

I know I’ve grown up loved by many people around me. But yes, the economic transition that the country was facing had lots of family in jeopardy, holding the workers 24 7. My family also was this part of victimised working class. Rather sadly, my father had to have a heart surgery and couldn’t keep working at some point, taking pills instead until nowadays, and this made my mum become the economic pole for the whole family. Thanks to my mum’s occupation as a chef nurse at a well-known hospital, medical service that the family had was relatively accessible, mostly after some surgeries my father had. Mum cares of him surely, but also regrets for having born as a woman in such machista country where she had had distorted life decision as her own sacrifice for the family. Typically wanting boy as a successor of the family, my grandparents kept trying until they had a son after 5 daughters. My mum, being the first daughter, had to give up education and started to work: being nurse was the only decent option that she could afford.

When both of my parents worked until my father quit his job out of the health problem, they didn’t have time to take much care of me and my brother, so we were sent to be fostered by another parents for few years in childhood. I used to call them mum and dad as well, but now to differentiate those two, I call them titimum and titidad. I do not know what is the meaning of such nomination. I remember that there was a elder boy in that family who taught me boy stuffs life how to use toy guns and etc. I really didn’t care much of those things since it was a pastime materials but others might have thought he was a bad influence over me. After my originated parents realised that I was mistreated as like locked at home all day, I was sent back to my originated family and never had chance to meet them again. One day I heard phone ringing and I picked up listening the voice from other side indicating that he was the titidad, I didn’t know what to reply so I passed it to my dad and later I heard him say never to call back.

Once I wrote about a story between those two families and that story got published with a good comment of a famous national poet. The story was that those two families lived relatively close to each other. Once I was coming back from school late, I wasn’t thinking hard but just listening some songs from my MP3. I arrived at home and rang the doorbell, expecting my mum to come out to greet me. The door opened and whom I saw wasn’t my mum but titimum. She looked at me with surprises and wonders then I started to cry out. I just wanted to have welcome-back smile but instead, I had two confused eyes of her questioning me why I was there. I realised that I had oriented myself to that house out of an anterior habit. I walked back to my home all the way crying but when I finally arrived at the front door back home, I stopped crying. I rang the doorbell then my mum came out. She asked me what happened: she might have seen my reddish eyes. I replied nothing but smiled. I hugged her and got in.

As I mentioned earlier, I remember most of my childhood living in the island as I collected good memories instead of bad ones. I do remember my aunt being a world traveler: as her influence on me, I always wanted to be like her when I become older. She gathered many sketches of where she traveled, as with photos and sounds. She used to put CD record at night so that I (and my brother) could fell asleep with the exotic and nature sounds. Maybe it was for her to fell asleep as well, but all those sounds, for me personally, were put to create my own imagination toward the world that I’d never been. Once she talked about a story that happened to her when she was in desert. She was inside of her tent preparing for the night. Suddenly she heard thousands of frogs crying out loud outside of her tent. Doubting the reality she came out from the tent to see what was happening that there were no way that those frogs existed in such desert. What she found out were little stones instead of little frogs. It was that when temperature falls drastically at night in desert, the vapor inside of cracks of stones freezes expanding its size and cracking the stone into pieces: the natural process of how desert is made from rocks to stones and stones to sand.

Such a beautiful story it was, and thus gave me desires to go to desert by myself to explore. Until now I’ve been two different deserts with expectation but I never could hear such frog sounds at night but still I’ve gotten some other good sounds and stories of my own.

Chapter 3: Pierre. Intimacy.

My parents were enthusiastic in my education just as other Asian parents. They weren’t typical tiger parents since there was no restriction for me nor for my brother. We enjoyed quite of freedom, to be frank, in terms of studying we attended two different schools: one normal public and the other private one which all were in English. So I can say, from my young age I could be in an environment where I learned and expressed in English. At the same time my mum’s work was going well, as she was getting many invitations of medical conferences where German and Swiss doctors occupied the seats. She brought me to the conferences whenever she could, and I enjoyed hanging out with those German and Swiss people. I still giggle when I recall some cubic cheeses with small Swiss flags attached that were served during the conference breaks.

I once attended to an international film festival along with Germans and Hungarians to present juvenile films where I got a golden prize for camera angle. I spent one summer at Saipan studying during the morning and watching pacific crystal waves afternoon. I don’t remember how I got the name Pierre after all of these moment that I lived with this name. I always thought that it was somehow because I was around European environment. But having it so many years, it just became natural somehow and many people actually told me that I have the same name vibe which I didn’t really understand what that meant. So at some point I just happened to accept it as my name. During my high school age then, I happened to go to New Haven, United States, as a student delegation for UN resolution. The debate was tough and I didn’t really participate deeply since it was out of my theme but that moment formed me to have more confidence in international environment observing all differences merged together without superiority nor inferiority. Whole different accents, behaviours, ethnicities, nationalities, sexualities and religions were presented and I was stood among them in New York City.

One of my teachers was the one who worked at the International trade center, the twin buildings that fell in 2001. He told me that he was lucky because his contract was just expired 3 months before the incident. He was a typical Christian just as other people from United States. He explained me the biblical meaning of the name Pierre which I never had thought before him that name would be biblical: The Son named Pierre(stone) to one of his pupils, and told him that upon this stone he would build his church for the world. His name was Peter so he knew. And I liked my name better. I thought later that I might need to go back to see the city as a grown-up rather keeping the image of New York created as of adolescent point of view.

I met many people with this name of course, including my former intimacies. I don’t know relationship would be a proper word, so I decided to use the word intimacy instead. It’s not about being in relationship but rather, being in an genuine interaction and out of that interaction I have learnt of love: Eventually more about giving and enlarging oneself with love, than receiving love and keeping it. Some of those intimacies I managed to be in so-called-relationship, and the others remained as a deep friendship. I’m not going to mention all of those intimacies for that it shall be impossible to mention every name that is being brought up to my mind now. If the life were a roller-coaster, there will be ups and downs. Ups are exciting and whispering, but downs are thrilling and adventurous. With some names I shared the ups and with others the downs. Both were memorable equally; just that I’ve learnt more with the downs which always made me more introvert.

I am careful to mention others’ name here in this writing for their privacy. But I hope they understand in that those names are the good influences over me that I want to mention without intention of harm. First name I need to mention of intimacy is Andrew. I met him at a club where he hit me by accident when almost was the time to finish the opening hour. He apologised me and offered me to come with him to his house that he would make food for me as an apology. I accepted his offer. I stayed at his house felling asleep after some bites of the food he made. There we became good friends that we talked constantly to go out to clubs and have some drinks with more people. The value he taught me was the respect. It was putting someone in priority, which has been remained forgotten in this digital and egoistic era. I was young and immature trying to hatch out from my own world of self protection, and I’m glad that he was the one being there around me when I managed to peel out the shell. We even talked about marriage and further, after having known his family, but later I moved to Mexico putting my own career in priority, the fate faded away.

Sarah was the only rival in my lifetime. I don’t believe in competition, but only with her I’ve experienced synergy that competition brought. Being with her just talking and walking enriched my being. I met her while working in one NGO that offered free education for the students having inaccessibility. We argued about many things, but nothing remained as something stupid to argue with. Still genuinely we exchange books and thoughts in a way to share ideas. We both knew that one day we would become domestic ducks that forget to fly accustomed by daily comfort even having wings to fly with. We kept ourselves to be more adventures, directly or indirectly poking each other to act out. Eventually she got a good job in one of the most known social media corporations, so she went in to the technology bubble when I decided to walk out from any kind of bubbles. I admit that she always outranged me, so I could look up to her and learned from her. It was the story, maybe the only story that intimacy was rivalry.

I met Alex at the Zocalo on the national day of independence, el Grito. It was a raining day as usual, so after the midnight shouting we all went back to a house of my friend to drink a wine. Then we got to travel together, first to a jungle, Xilitla, then to a desert, Hermosillo. We both enjoyed the lessons that the little prince gave to humanity, and observing cactus lantern of the sunset we shared much of being mature person. But ironically, what I learned of him was the pride and how cultural pride can deform one’s interaction with others. We talked about the lessons of the little prince, but getting old and returning back to where one thought to be belonged, one has become more the the crown guy at the story, asking claps from another. Are we here to be admired? Or are we here to admire? I have tried to eliminate such pride of cultural background, which is quite harsh in this world where everyone obligates one to answer and act as of one’s own culture. It’s an expectation that one would react out of such inboxed cultural prejudice, and since it’s an expectation it could have been easily uneducated. Intimacy became not teaching of perspective of right and wrong, rather became of showing and acting off, without expectation.

The name Agatha comes next, as I lived with her for a short time in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, when I visited to Rio for the second time. I met her first when I visited one of my friends’ house. There was a party of that house with many Brazilian housemates and those Carioca people knew how to party. It wasn’t about good music, recently added electronic, nor famous cool kids being there. It was about passion of living and compassion to share for others. They just grabbed my hand for the dance circle, and I felt belonged and beloved. Once we climbed to dois Irmãos and came back down, one old senhor called me with hand gesture. I went there and he grabbed my hand and kissed on it. I didn’t know what to think nor how to react, but Agatha told me that it was a gesture of showing me his respect. We were passing favela, Brazilian slum, so I had quite of bit of fear but with her the walking was smooth and secure. I slowly understood what was about passion and compassion to live by and to live on.

For now, the last name I could think of worth to mention is Wiliam. He was a Cuban born, and since he was outside of Cuba for the first time of his life, everything we did together was the first experience for him. The first curry, the first salmon, the first octopus and etc, the list keeps going on. As time was going, I jumped into the fun part that I was offering him the first experiences, I really didn’t focus on my experience to be enlarged. I loved that period that I could do something for someone else, but eventually I noticed that it wasn’t about giving but taking myself out from the boredom. This intimacy has taught me the uselessness of having relationship, rather importantly, when the mutual enlightenment is absent. One can have respect, without pride but compassion. One can give love and intimacy to others, yes, for giving is what matters. But mutual enlightenment is something like a balanced tree connecting other balanced tree. When the wind is strong the both hold from the roots for each other, and when the rain hits strong they become shade for each other. When one is unbalanced, the other leans and self-destructs. I should be the balanced tree whose branches and roots are equally distributed. Some trees might have more branches to show off to the world lacking their roots of confidence, and other trees might have profound roots lacking their branches to contribute oxygen back to the society. It wasn’t relationship nor intimacy one lacks: it was my own maturity and overcoming solitude to stand still. It was understanding of my own, and from that understanding I understand other: to which many people name love.

Chapter 4: Kang. Oppression.

It was an army practice that one is to be called by his or her surname. So I started to use my surname when I started my army service as an augmented Korean soldier to US army. I was one of the lucky ones since I got selected by Korean government to perform my service in different army body. I was stationed to Camp Hovey, in an overseas US territory which registered as in California state, and my job description was combat police. It was somewhat military police, but we didn’t do arranged police work. So out of this ambiguity, I sometimes say that I worked as a police and sometimes as a military soldier. Both were true in a way that there were moments when there were no missions then I was attached to police work to do patrols and surveillance. But when there were missions, I wasn’t to do any police work. One of my close friend described this description comparing as the military police that swaps the Brazilian slum in Rio. They are like SWAT team, trained as soldiers and act to maintain the civil order. I was on that stand-by team waiting for the mission, and when it was given, I did my work to achieve it quickly and professionally as possible.

From private to sergeant it took me one year to become. It was an unusual velocity of promotion in that such promotion normally takes place with range of at least more than 2 years. With the facts that I attended to the military board and I qualified myself of different shooting ranges including M9, M16 and 50cal, and most importantly we were facing lack of leadership position and my chain of command was vague between the Korean one and the American one, I happened to put sergeant rank within one year after I finished the basic training. I cited noncommissioned officer creed to live with such values. I had armed-guarded a mayor or higher. I had border-patrolled with captains. I had delivered ammos, armouries, humvees and tanks. It sounded serious but mostly I had wasted my time in Motor pool. I had enjoyed and sometime had avoided morning PTs.

I was a bit more than 19 when I joined the army. And of the western environment I started to drink a lot on weekends. It was that on Friday the drinking started until Sunday morning then took rest the whole Sunday to go back to work on Monday. It was a western routine for me that I was facing, and I could taste Vodka, Whiskey, cheep beers and more. Beer-pong, beer-push ups and more games I tried, and I learned how to make it all squared when inspection comes whenever. But this routine wasn’t to roll over to repeat every weekends, as one wears out. It was one of those nights that I woke up at a light-off janitor room. The cigarette smoke was pushing me down as I noticed myself lying down on the floor. I was waking up from the darkness, from the black out, not knowing how I had gotten there. Slowly I noticed that I wasn’t covered and I wasn’t alone. Someone was above me, and as soon as I realised what was happening I pushed him away, then stood up to find my clothes, wore those and ran out. I came out from the barrack building. I sat down on the bench in front of it, thinking that I had a weird dream. Then I saw one guy was coming out from the barrack. I glanced him quickly then realised that he was wearing my t-shirt so I knew that nothing was in my dream. I fled from there. I went back to my room to lock myself in. I think I fell asleep for less than an hour until I heard hard knocking. I got up to open the door and there was one of my friends standing there inviting me to go the soccer match. I followed him. The weather was shining unjustly when my mind was distorting and raining from inside. I saw them playing with passion and I felt behind alone. I excused myself and went back to my room after. I couldn’t do anything more. I couldn’t just stand. I turned on the shower and got inside, trying to wash out the all cigarette smell over me, which I shouldn’t have done as I learned long time later. Almost all day I was under the shower crying, but the smell hadn’t gone still.

It was a moment as the Adam bit the piece of apple then fell into all shameful lives. I used this metaphor not because what I did was the act of sin but because the consequence of the incident caused to burden shame on one’s life. I realised that I had been all along naked. I became an adult then, like the drunken man on one planet where the little prince traveled. I drank more than before, to forget the effect of drinks that had led to me. One month I lived swimming in the toxic beverage, until one day I was sober passing the passage and encountered the man of that night. I wanted to confirm what had happened during my black out, but he was so drunk so after few tries to talk, I left the scene. I went back to my place but I couldn’t sleep. My eyes were fixed on to the ceiling just staring it and my heart was pumping hard. At 3 in the morning I walked downstairs to take a walk. I saw some police cars then I quickly imagined what had happen. This time it was with one of my friends. And all of them were looking for the offender but they didn’t know who was: except me. But it took me few more days to face the police to identify the offender since it meant that I need to explain how I was sure of such identification. I needed to reveal all my stories as well, as as I did, I found out there were more than us two victims. I lived with guilty since then, punching the savage walls until bleeding, thinking that no extra victims would have occurred if I had courage to speak up at the first beginning. It was a long procedure after that: paperwork and testimony in the juridical court. Suicidal surveillance and psychological therapies. I still keep the documents of such sessions as an evidence of how I lived as a victim. When all these procedures ended finally, I left and never went back. But something has remained in me as a permanent mark: every time I drink, no matter what amount I intake, I get black out and loss of memories. The therapy indicated that my mind might have developed its own protection mechanism by simply erasing the memories when drink, whether it is truly explainable or not, I know that not drinking would be helpful anyhow.

When I finished my service, I went back to step on Korean territory. But I couldn’t go back where I had lived, for feeling not belonged to anywhere. I didn’t want to be anywhere so I moved around public spas which in Korea are common. It’s like Japanese or Turkish spa where people take bath and sleep over: nonsexual, more family friendly environment and resting. It was cheap to stay in 24 hours so I moved around spa to spa until I could find somewhere to stay more permanently. Once I was in one spa in Seoul sleeping, I felt someone trying to touch me. I woke up, and I saw a drunken guy right next me. I moved outward so that I could have separated space, but when I woke up again he was right next to me as I terrified and I tried to call help but there were no one around in the big hall. But then I realised that didn’t want to victimise myself again of all those nonsenses. I didn’t want to run away, just as the way I wanted to know what happened during my black out. I wanted to revenge to the oppression. It was a hard decision that pumped my heart so hard to explode. The best way to perform something that was against my will was to dominate the situation, I thought, not to lose control. I stood up bounding off trying to threaten him and asked what he wanted. He wanted to give me a blowjob so I told him to do so, gaining my domination on the situation. When I exploded, I told him to disappear. The oppression and the revenge to it deformed my sexuality.

The name Kang also formed me when I was working in UNESCO as a project collaborator. The project was about preventing violence against indigenous women in rural Mexico. And my job description was to coordinate between New York University and UNESCO so that the university lab could quantify the correlation between the media use and social effect on preventing gender violence. The media was radio, for the radio is the most cheapest and effective idea-transmitter over the population. Everyday a the radio-novel was transmitted and delivered, of which story was about an indigenous woman overcoming her spouse’ oppression and empowering herself. During the process an old woman approached to share us her life story. To keep the evidence of the story she were asked to write, but her education kept her away from writing, so rather we had her voice-recorded. Her story started of an age of 14 when she got married and started to get the beating and getting sexual diseases from the spouse who kept her away from police or clinics. Later the spouse left to US to labor then disappeared, so she grabbed her little kids and took the journey to California. During the journey she got robbed, vanished in the middle of the desert with kids. She got herself rescued repeated, and illegally trespassed the border to find her spouse. At last in California what she found was an alcoholic husband of no use. She lost her children on the way back to Mexico, where later her husband as well arrived for her but kept beating her as in machista social norm.

How much violence one can endure in her or his lifetime because of this oppression? Most of time I was working in Mexico I worked crying. Listening again and again the recorded audio I could imagine her terrified eyes on the desert and constant burden she carried in her heart during the whole lifetime. What I saw was that her husband maybe also was the victim of the society and culture, making another victim like her, but she didn’t make more victim to pass on to other people like him. The violence ended at her as the tale. I questioned myself then, what have I done about the violence that I internalised back days. Did I pass it on to other people with insecurity and lack of confidence? Or did I keep making myself victim, passing the same violence to myself? Could I overcome the overwhelmed?

Emotional waves were coming up and going down on the shore, and I was stupid enough to follow every wave to the sea running and back to dust swallowing short breath. I just could’ve maintain my walk not considering whether the wave comes up to web my feet or not. I paid now my consequences to have let those emotions rule me over. It is a pity that I learned how to walk straight not being affected by those emotional waves that wet me and dry, but it was a just path to find out how to deal with those.

Chapter 5: Don. Harmony.

Living in Panama as an administrative manager in one international company of world-leading construction guaranteed me high quality of life. But as the project was running to the end, the amount of tasks diminished and of all the dynamics simplified so I quit my job then thinking that I was still too young to settle I went backpacking with a sole question: who am I and what my name would be? I wanted to try peyote. I wanted to try ayahuasca. I wanted meditations. I wanted to read books and eyes. I wanted to meet new perspectives. An half year of backpacking from the Panama Canal to Patagonia made me encounter million voices: Ana told me about the transformation with a symbol of frog. One adapts the environment and it evolves with it in anywhere. Ivan the skydiver taught me how to appreciate every aspect of life, from the little plant first touches the spring air, to the stupid phrase of mostly well-known poem. Dmitri the soccer player recommended me Santaram which gave me insight of how singularity and complexity meet at extreme. The cathedral of the Sea from Barcelona taught me the beauty of living one year and one day as a method to experience gained freedom. Moly the psychologist enlightened me with the concept of the third culture which I believe where I am categorised in. With lovely argentine hippies I lived in Lima, Peru, selling artisanal on the street. David the sound scientist and Van in Brasilia showed me hospitality. My brother came over to travel with me for few months to fill the gap that we had lost since very childhood. And lastly, Don Quixote in São Paulo finalised the question, giving me the proper answer to it.

It was in one of the Galapagos Islands when I was surrounded by animals and people that I questioned out loud how I was to live among all those anterior names. Every name has distinct value and to live with those values are the choice one makes. Then I read what Don Quixote said and I quote: I know who I am and whom I can be, if I desire to. This quote hit me hard on my back head, giving me realisation that it was all about my desire and my choice of values that make who I am of present and of future indeed. My being is defined by my desire as a chosen identity but still in the deep down I knew that that chosen identity wouldn’t give me the feeling of being belonged. Then I read some books. Out of conviction after some conversations with interesting people and books, with people from the past and people from the future, I erased big part of my name. It was like in the animation named spirited away, where one is controlled by her forgotten name. I erased the letters and left the first three letters which became Don as it is, and despite of its controversy on implication I still sting to use this deformation as to admit myself deformed as well. That was about humility, and out of that humility I expected respect.

It was a duality, or to say, the result of conflicts between two different poles. It was a symbol for harmony of two different poles. It was a promise for harmony of the orthodoxy and heterodoxy. After Panama I had become such an adult that the little prince questioned weird and during the travel I could fix myself away from counting numbers and from comparing with the past. It was a constant conflict between ideals and realities: which became the theme of my tattoo. On the interview that I had with ambassadors of three different languages to get a convention to UN in Chile, I was asked what is the meaning of the Korean flag. All flags only mean the psychological wall that separates us one another by certain manmade dogma, but they surely have symbols, mostly of their national religion as a life philosophy. Some are Arabic, some others are Christian. Korean one was about Taoism, where yin and yang harmonised with 4 different elements of universe. Harmony doesn’t mean a peace, rather it is a constant conflict status between symbols, between powers and between perceptions. But it is about living, as life is a pure conflict of every moment. I got delivered after that interview and was sent to Santiago, Chile, to contribute what I can do for the region. I lived in Chile where workplace was an orchestra in that all different notes made harmony, or at least mistuned harmony. I figured that not many people understand well the collectivism in such sense, including myself, wondering where comes the harmonisation between all individual different notes that are all eager to be heard out loud. We all lose ourselves in competition, not knowing how to coordinate one another. I had to study more, and had to learn better. So I decided to study in graduate school.

With this name I have lived in Buenos Aires where my balance constantly has gotten challenged by others’ imbalance. Trees are too tightly planted, stealing water and soil from another trees around. Yet those trees remain beautiful. Many show off their leaves rather than connecting profound. Others connect underground but only to fuel energy with white powders rather than absorbing from the concrete soil. Buenos Aires is no green city whatsoever. It is more grey than cities of cloud. It is more brown than cities of desert. People seek outer motivation rather than inner one. I do negatively like this city in that I have challenged myself momentarily to maintain calmness, when the middle ground had been lost already. Or to say, I had lost myself over and over, until I came back again and again with spared desperation. Humanity was the fixed point, in the past, and now since the humanity had died along with God, as many utilitarian aspects of people are to be performed everyday lives, it is hard to even define what the middle ground would be. Where have we left the beacon? Where is the lighthouse? Morality became an excessive ornament in the era where modernity requires a simple cut. Faith doesn’t recall strength anymore. Only utility brings the worthiness. Am I of use for anyone here? I am expecting more lovely stories in this city.

Chapter 6: I am of all names. Evolution.

The modern myth is that everything requires numeration as it proves its validation. In this requirement, the concept of the one being the whole and the whole being the one isn’t to be understood. The whole always outnumbers the one. The collectivism became overvalued in such sense, for that collectivism requires to think that one added one should be another one instead of two. Maybe it could be called as a meditation practice that oneself is the whole, as we share the same origin: the beginning of life. Someone might call it Big Bang, others might call it logo that said to be the light. The light spread, planting life everywhere. We are just different choice of direction that lights went off. Possibilities and choices are the missing link between every life then and recalling the possibilities all lives concludes of same beginning. So I-self is you-self, as you-self is I-self, is what I’ve learnt living with five different names so far. All those names are the one formality, as all other names also fall into one personality.

I might have grown up illogical and antisocial as to be viewed by some critics. Some criticise me of my bad memory and as such it has deformed my identity of being. There is no need to memorise when there are logical patterns. When one understands the logic, the last will just follows as it should be. Even the most lunatic people have their own patterns maybe unexplainable by the logic of the majority: I live up with this justification. At the same time, I know that I have grown up quite logical. Just like anyone else, one walks the border between normality and abnormality. So we are somewhere between singularity and complexity.

This is the end of my short memoir. There should be more interesting stories, but I would save them for my grandchildren to hear as their bedtime instead. As I described at the first beginning, no lies were applied but the collage of memories were laid. There is no timeline, nor place ground. I just had lived, and lived as some beings as each name represents. I feel that I am still evolving toward complexity still. I am whom you want me to be called and I am whom I desire to be. I am all these names, and all these names include me in them.

2 thoughts on “Memoir: One lives with names, and names live as their own.

  1. Pingback: forge meaning and build identity – Kindness bears kindness

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