Chuseok, or Korean Thanksgiving, is one of the biggest, most widely celebrated holidays in Korea. The celebration of the Autumn Festival is a time for families to come together, visit ancestral homes, and, of course, to feast. For many expats in Korea, the long holiday is also a chance to get OUT of Korea.
After a seemingly long two-day work week, I headed to Taiwan for what has been an incredible solo adventure. Despite multiple typhoons in Taiwan this weekend, I have had the best time. While sitting at temples in the rain, gazing at the intricacies of architecture, and soaking in the beauty of the Northern coastline, I have had several moments of pure clarity. I have been left totally speechless, and, on more than one occasion, stunned to tears because, after years of dreaming about seeing Taiwan, I can’t believe that I’m actually here.
This Chuseok, I am thankful for the opportunity to travel the world, and for the once in a life time experiences I’ve had doing so. Though I couldn’t spend the holiday with my family, they have been constantly on my mind. Whenever I go to a new city, I can’t help but to wish I could share it with them – Pictures very rarely do a place justice. They show how it looks, but never how it makes you feel.
In the spirit of being thankful, I would like to say the ultimate thank you to my parents. Thank you for giving me a gift that is second to none. No, I’m not talking about the gift of life… Though I am obviously very thankful for that, I think that’s more God’s gift to you. (Admit it... Life would be pretty boring without me). ;)
The gift I’m most thankful for was a bit of a package deal. The first part was roots… and the second was wings.
Mum and dad, you both did your fair share of traveling before settling down and starting a family, so I think it’s safe to say that I have you to blame/thank for the incurable travel bug I’ve had since I was a kid. Thank you for understanding my insatiable desire to see the world, to meet people and learn their language, and to live life on the edge… (oftentimes in quite a literal sense).
Thank you for teaching me to keep an open mind; a mind ready to be filled with all of the new sights and experiences it would encounter. Thank you for instilling in me a solid set of morals – because our values are the most valuable things we have. You taught me how to treat people… not by telling me, but by setting the ultimate example. You showed me how to stay strong in tough times and how to fend for myself. You taught me to chase my dreams and, at all costs, to never ever stop running. I learned to be accountable for my actions, and found that if I'm not satisfied with the way my life is going, I am the only one to blame. These are lessons I carry with me wherever I go.
Though I was far from being the worst kid growing up, I wasn’t the best either. Thanks for never giving up on me and for always making sure that I had a great childhood. Thank you for my roots - for giving me such a beautiful place to call home… And thank you for letting me leave. In doing so you have given me the opportunity to grow, change, and realize my true potential in ways I never could have by staying at home. You gave me wings and your blessing to pursue the life of my dreams – a life of wander, wonder, and adventure. You gave me the world.
I’ve noticed that the world could use a little more “thank you’s”. We may be grateful, but we so rarely openly express it – unless of course it’s almost the fourth Thursday of November. Mum and dad, you’re amazing, and I definitely don’t tell you enough how much I appreciate you. I don’t know if I’ll ever truly be able to express how thankful I am to have you, but hopefully this is a start. I love you always.