Greetings from Korea, friends!
For the last 6+ years, I’ve listened to my father-in-law say that.
For those that don’t know me well, my wife is Korean, and therefore, so are my in-laws. My father-in-law (Abunim) and my mother-in-law (Aumuhni) immigrated to the States when they were in their 20’s, bringing with them my wife and her sister at the ages of 9 and 7 respectively.
Abunim’s English is not that great, but that doesn’t stop him from talking up a storm. He’s one of the most engaging, gregarious people I know. He also has no shame, very little inhibitions, and will always say what’s on his mind.
In fact, I remember one of the first times I met him. He looked at me, patted his belly, and said, “You don’t exercise much, do you?”
I’ll admit, I was a little taken aback with the comment. But I’ve come to learn that his bluntness comes from a genuine place of concern, not judgement. And now it is something that I admire and respect about him.
Anytime there is a family gathering or celebration, there is usually soju involved. Soju is an alcoholic rice wine and is Korea’s equivalent to Japan’s sake (but in my humble opinion is more versatile and fun to drink). When drinking soju at these gatherings, we clink glasses, say “gunbae!” (Korean for “cheers!”) and put back an ounce of the good stuff.
Abunim always adds, “time so fly…”
When he first said this, I was confused. When Yu Jin (my wife) explained that he meant “time flys” I laughed out loud. Here he was reminiscing about old times and lamenting the fact that time moves so quickly, yet the words were just incorrect enough to make it funny. We now say “time so fly” anytime we celebrate, regardless of Abunim’s presence.
But something happened the other night that gave me pause. I was forced to stop and think for a minute about time. I was actually completely engrossed in stories of what Korea was like 30 years ago and began to realize that time does, indeed, so fly.
Yu Jin’s Halmuhni (grandmother) was telling stories of my wife’s childhood before she left for America. I sat there at a restaurant overlooking the ocean on the west coast of Korea, listening to Halmuhni tell amusing tales of how she helped raise Yu Jin while her parents worked. When she was little, Yu Jin would stay outside all day playing with friends. And even when the sun went down and it got dark, she wouldn’t come in. Halmuhni would have to chase after her and force her to come home.
There were times that Yu Jin, at 5 and 6 years old, would cry out for her parents when they were working. She would tell her Halmuhni that she didn’t care about anything else…she just wanted her parents to be there. Like any child, the most valuable currency was her parents’ time.
As Halmuhni shared her stories with much animation, Yu Jin and her sister, Yu Ra, had big smiles and some tears. It was a beautiful, emotional moment. I was honored to be there.
Nearly 30 years later, so much has changed. Everyone is older. People and places have developed. Time so fly.
I thought about my own life, just 10 years ago. My life has changed so much and so dramatically, that it’s hard to comprehend. And 10 years from now, things will be much different.
But what seems to be consistent is that the speed at which time passes is relative. Time can move so slow and yet so fast. In the moment, minutes and hours can sometimes seem to drag on. Other times, they move at warp speed.
However, whenever I look back at my younger self, I always think that things have moved so quickly. Knowing this, I have a greater appreciation for the present moment.
The bottom line is, there is no practice run in life. There are no “do-overs.” We’ve got this life to live, to appreciate, and to make the most of. Don’t settle and don’t wait for the right moment. Now is the right moment. Take advantage of what time you have been given and make the most of it.
Take some action on something you’ve been meaning to do. Have that difficult conversation you’ve been thinking about. Tell those around you how you feel about them.
This precious gift continues to move forward…day after day. Live it fully and live it well.