Sometimes, the best thing to do is to be still–even if only for a moment.
The first flakes of snow fell yesterday, as I soaked in an outdoor spa in Gyeongju. Cries of delight rose with the cloud of steam and we all enjoyed the stinging chill of snowflakes on our skin. The snow continued to fall throughout the rest of the day and night and, when I eagerly threw open my window the next morning, the city of Pohang was covered in a fluffy blanket of white. Giddy with excitement, I checked with my coworker and my wish for the day was fulfilled: work was cancelled! I slipped into my snow gear and stepped outside; it was going to be a great day.
After wandering around the downtown area of Pohang for a bit, I found myself walking a familiar path–heading along the walking trail towards the Pohang War Memorial and nearby temples. Normally bustling with a contingent of walkers decked out in a medley of colors, the trail was nearly empty today–the occasional couple trudging along bundled up and waddling like marshmallows.
There were other signs of life as well. Along the trail, a small flock of bramblings frolicked, flicked, and fluttered in the snow and among the foliage.
The road leading up to the temples had been scraped clean, but a thin film of snow made it treacherous footing.
The trail disappeared as soon as I rounded the corner of the temple, whoever had been shoveling had only been interested in clearing the way for entrance to the temple itself. The freshly fallen snow made for better footing than the slick surface of the road, so I didn’t mind.
A short walk up the hillside brought me to the lookout where I’d sat before, when I first visited the site. I took shelter in the small lookout tower, took out my headphones, and stood in silence looking out over my home. For a few minutes, I forgot about everything else; the only thing holding my attention was that moment in that place. For the first time in a long time, I was still.
The view was strikingly different than before. Flurries of snow obscured the view that had previously been obscured by a hazy smog. The bustling city below seemed smothered and subdued. The distant beeps and droning of traffic were a muted fragment of their normal volume, overpowered by the constant blast of the icy wind. The snow seemed to fall sideways, whipped in flurries with each successive gust. It was cold, so cold it nipped at my nose and cheeks; numbing my lips as I pressed a ball of snow to my mouth and sucked some water out of it.
I stood there, doing nothing, for several minutes. I’d forgotten how rewarding it is to be still, to soak in a moment, and to forget about the business of life. I’d forgotten how badly I need moments like that, to let the stress and worry slough away and let wonder flood my senses.
Looking out over my city, I made myself a promise. To, every so often, stop wherever I am and whatever I’m doing. To be still and soak in every last minute detail of what’s around me. To bask in child-like wonder at my surroundings, because that’s when I feel most alive.