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At Thirty, The Party Is Over

Minam Kim

“At thirty, the party is over…” writes poet, Choi Young-Mi. It isn’t that way for everyone, but when I turned thirty years of age, I found myself sympathizing with this poetic line as I began to struggle in life. I lost some money to somebody that I had trusted. It may not have been much money to others, but to me it was significant. Also, my father’s health had been a problem for several years and was now becoming worse.

My father passed away on a spring day

They say that money comes and goes, and I was always able to get by even when money was tight. At this particular time in my life, my father’s health was getting worse and our time together was coming to an end. It was a really painful and difficult time for me.

I’m the youngest daughter of 7 children. I grew up receiving lots of love from both of my parents. But when I was a teenager, I really rebelled against my father because I always thought he liked my older brother more than me. When I had moved out of my childhood home, in my 20s, I realized how immature I had been as an adolescent and I promised myself I would try harder to be more respectful to my parents. And now, the time I had left to share with my father was ticking away… I felt like a horrible daughter to him because when I would visit him in the hospital, his one request was that he wanted me to marry before he passed away. I felt awful because I knew that wouldn’t happen.

I had been introduced to several men through family and friends in the past. I think I was just so obsessed with trying to find the right guy, I couldn’t settle with anyone. I felt like I should get married to please my father but the pressure was making me feel anxious and I didn’t want to make a hasty decision that I’d have to deal with for the rest of my life. Then, one beautiful spring day, my father suddenly passed away.

How nice it would be to make all the bad memories disappear.

There is a saying that parents can’t wait forever. It is also said that sadness belongs to those who are left behind.

I cried a lot and went through some heart-wrenching struggles when I visited my father’s grave. I was holding on to so much self-pity and guilt because I let my father die with his concern for me to be married unfulfilled and still dwelling in his heart.

After my father’s funeral, I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t concentrate on my work and I wanted to quit my job. It was so bad I started to consider going to a temple or church.

Then, one spring day, when the flowers that bloomed all over the world were no longer beautiful to me, I heard about this meditation. At the time, I was struggling with skepticism, emptiness, and depression. Could I really do this meditation and empty my mind? Would all the difficult memories really go away? If so, how nice would it be. So I started meditation. I began to recall the memories of my life and to throw them away.

After throwing away my narrow self who lived misunderstanding and alone, I understood everything.

I abandoned my “self” who hated my father and brothers because of a memory from my childhood, especially when I thought my father liked my brother more than me.  I also abandoned my self who couldn’t open my mind to other men because of that same memory. My self who had a lot of resentment about my family, who had regretful feelings in my heart, with jealousy towards my older brother and his wife was also abandoned. I couldn’t see others as they were and all the memories I harbored. I could see now that I was mistaken and I misunderstood. By myself I built up all of these minds and could now let go of them.

At first, it was difficult and painful to recall the sad memories that I had suppressed. But soon all of these minds were gradually discarded and I began to feel much more comfortable and peaceful.

I was finally able to see things from my mother’s, brothers’ and sisters’ perspectives. And I began to understand. I had no choice but to understand. I saw how I had been feeling so sorry for my narrow-minded self who had misunderstood everything and lived alone.

After meditating, my relationship with my family became more comfortable than before and I became so grateful for them. I realized that they had always watched over me silently, without scolding. After meditating, I could feel a change in my work life too. Even though I had a lot of work to do and sometimes got annoyed with my colleagues, I noticed after meditating how easy it had become to accept others and and I didn’t feed into my old frustrating emotional patterns. Understanding from other’s point of view, I could now naturally say that I am sorry to co-workers and there would be no bad feelings between us.

My self who was trapped inside of me and didn’t know how to see the world correctly, my self who didn’t even know the heart of any man because of a picture of my father, could now relax and see other people’s true heart.

If I hadn’t started meditating, I never would have imagined that I could be grateful and have genuine laughter in my heart. Now, I am in my mid-thirties. There are more laughs than ever before, and my eyes are shimmering and bright.  I feel grateful and beautiful, even for the wrinkles. At thirty, the party isn’t over; it’s just beginning!


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