Thursday, November 29, 2012

Response to Thoreau "Why I Went to the Woods"

By: Natalina (Sogang University)
From the experience, there is nobody who doesn't love the excitement they feel after they got new items, especially items that they want so badly in their lives, although the excitement passes quickly. To get things they want, people need money. They need it, likewise, to live their lives. All of us know that money is all it matters to stay in this world. With it, we can get and do things we want. However, in today’s world, most of the people aside from using money to stay alive for basic necessities, such as: food, clothing and shelter. More than that, “To prove to others and the world who is better” seems to be the main purpose most people use money for. This can be said also as the reason why people cannot get simplicity in their lives. It is true that getting to simplicity is not always a simple process, since there are lots of distractions around, so it becomes a journey, not a destination. Some say “Why Should I live simply while I can still be able to get to the top?”. Since everyone has strong desires and their own way to live their lives, nobody has power to stop them, only their own awareness does. I have not been to many countries, but in my short time in South Korea, today, I see how everyone is striving in life, trying to show off their material possessions and status. I see many of these people. Of course live a meaningful life means differently for everybody, but, it seems to them, live a meaningful life as they get things they desire for

It doesn't surprise me (or most of us) that in reality, almost people are always unsatisfied with what they have got. So, they look for another option, try to add more and more treasures to justify that they win the game of life. Until they are stuck in a really complex problem, they start to look back on their lives and wonder if they wasted them, or they will regret when they meet their final stage, death. 

It was hard for me to figure out why South Korea is still categorized as a stressful country. Believe it or not, it blew my mind at my first year in this country when I saw people around me wore brand name outfits and shoes, used expensive bags, and carried fancy electronics devices. They had all the things that I had dreamed about to have so badly. Even though they all have things that they want to, they are still complaining that they are unhappy. Seriously, what are the reasons then? I was haunted by this question for so long. Until I got acquainted with Korean culture, I then finally discovered the answer. Most of people here are super-busy due to competition with others for getting higher image instead of being simple. They do so because others put too much pressure on them to conform. They dont want to be blame or criticized, or to be rejected by others, if they dont have at least one expensive item. In this case, in my eyes people are becoming so materialistic. Another reason is the happiness could be reached if they got the expensive fancy materials that make them feel superior. 

I can say from what I see that peer pressure here is huge, especially in knowledge area and material environment. Peer pressure in the area of knowledge, I think it is good, because people give motivation to each other to study hard and getting something for their better lives in the future. However, in material part, thats horrible, because people will never give up on this no matter how hard it is. It is not wrong if people found their happiness by getting big items with the expensive prices. It is not a bad thing. But, sometimes people cannot control themselves from distraction. Sometimes, people suddenly want to have something that they thought unimportant to get before because of the distraction they saw around, for instance the advertisement from the TV, or through famous people from anywhere they saw. 

I have said many times to Korean people who I met that I like Korea for all things I saw, when I was asked by them how much I like their country. They were wondering why I said so, while I was wondering why they kept asking me the same question. However, once I get to know about the life style here, I came to know that, life here is too much pressure. Every single day I must feel this. The only way to escape from the life here is I must go home, because I yearn for a simple life which is full of happiness. 

My life back home was absolutely good compared with the life that I live in now. Everything changed dramatically after I stepped my foot in this Ginseng country. After a couple of months starting my life in Korea, everything started to flow from the best part slowly to almost worst part, which is totally on opposite direction with what I have expected. I thought that after I got freedom of staying away from home, I can go wherever I want to go and do whatever I want to do without spending much time begging for my parents permission. Also, I dont need to do house work as well. But I was wrong. On the contrary, after getting things that I was dreaming about to have such as freedom, plus having my own laptop, and phone, I feel more pressure rather than happy.

Whenever my mom calls me, the thing that I do first is complaining. I always complain about the complex and unhappy life that I live in until present. Life back home was full of happiness. I recalled my life 18 years back, which everything went so good without laptop, Smartphone, or any fancy things. However, my mom supports me and gives me motivation with her thoughtful words that a problem makes people always alive because it keeps peoples brain and body work. I agreed with what she said, but I dont mean that. What I mean is the life I feel right now, here in Korea, which is I feel unreal. People really turned things upside-down. They make their live so hard, so other people should work hard to keep their lives balanced. 

It is just scary for me to imagine if I live here for the rest of my life. I remember many times I feel uncomfortable when some Korean people stared at me inside the subway or at any crowd places. They are obsessed with appearance, thats why they want to know what brand my clothes is, or my shoes or my bags are. However, there is a sentence Nobody is perfect that always keeps my head high and motivates me to ignore what people think about me. Frankly, I got so much stress though when I saw Korean peoples lives are so perfect, whenever I go, I see people dressed up as if they are going to the party. However, later on I learned and found out that all of these are just fashion. 

After reading an essay from David Henry Thoreau, Where I Lived, and What I Lived For, I felt the same way as he did, that the world around me was very shallow and superficial. Actually, life is simple if we live it in a simple way, but people make it hard. Thats because people are so snobby and let their snobby blinded their eyes and minds. It forces them to get extra money for getting trivial things. When I heard people said: I cannot live without my laptop, I cannot live without my Smartphone, I cannot live without my Louis Vuitton purse, I said Liar!, because this is totally doesn't make sense. If people cannot live without basic needs such as: food, water, air, these make sense. 

On the other side, I disagree with what Thoreau argued about in his essay that the only way to really understand one self and the meaning of life is to slow down. I do not think people have to slow down and look at what they have done, and I definitely don't think you have to move out into the wilderness. The reason I said so is when people slow down in their lives, they will waste time, and sometimes it can hamper them to reach their dream too. 

Therefore, to make life less complicated and less stressful, there is a best quote that can lead us “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify”-Thoreau, which means that people spent too much time thinking little thing instead of living in it to the fullest. Of course, a simple life has different meanings and values for everyone. For me, it means to make life less complicated and eliminating the stress. I consider that it is easy say to live a simple live, but it is so hard to put in an action because most of us are not aware of the truth reality, and we were blinded by the unconscious world. We seem placing the importance of live in physical life as the first one in list of life instead of spiritual life. 

In short, live simple life doesn't mean that you don’t have to work hard. It is a different story. Frankly speaking, apply simplicity in life isn't easy for most people who live in developed countries, or if they have really made up their mind to chuck off all the worldly pleasures, it can be easy. Once when they decide in their mind and heart to find deeper meaning to the life, it wouldn't be difficult to leave the life they have been living. Put in mind that, there are lots of successful people who have shared their experience of live that we can learn and chose which one is the best to follow. Most successful people who only care about materials during their live have said “The more successful they became, the less happy they are”. So, if we don’t want to regret later about our lives, then reflect the saying above. Also, try not to see the pleasure in the hands of others, while we have ours in our hands.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WOW! So much truth and revelation within this, I love it! Just as Dieter F. Uchtdorf once said "There is a beauty and clarity that comes from simplicity that we sometimes do not appreciate in our thirst for intricate solutions." Instead of seeking the complex answer, open your eyes and see the beauty of simplicity! ^_^

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