It’s been about three weeks since I got discharged from the ROK Army. It was a long journey that seemed endless at some points, but time flew by towards the end. Through ups and downs, I made some good friends and learned some valuable life lessons.
During 581 days of service, I had:
Not counting my shifts at the boot camp. Even then, it still looks like I spent over 25 days just being on a bunch of regular shifts.
I didn’t just spend my time completing shifts. When we didn’t have regular military exercises, we were kept busy maintaining the facilities around the base. Here’s a list of memorable, random, non-military stuff I got to do over my service:
(Some of these are quite the norms in the ROKA but I’m writing this to entertain my American friends)
I’m pretty much trained to be a decent handyman. I can also say that I learned more by working with my hands than through my military trainings/exercises. And, at certain points after completing some really shitty work (like unclogging the urinal drainage pipes from the floor below), I felt this confidence boost from the bottom of my heart that I could handle anything that life throws at me.
This is where Haruki’s writing1 resonated with me:
“Even if, seen from the outside, or from some higher vantage point, this sort of life looks pointless or futile, or even extremely inefficient, it doesn’t bother me. Maybe it’s some pointless act like, as I’ve said before, pouring water into an old pan that has a hole in the bottom, but at least the effort you put into it remains. Whether it’s good for anything or not, cool or totally uncool, in the final analysis what’s most important is what you can’t see but can feel in your heart. To be able to grasp something of value, sometimes you have to perform seemingly inefficient acts. But even activities that appear fruitless don’t necessarily end up so. That’s the feeling I have, as someone who’s felt this, who’s experienced it.”
Despite all the fruitless, pointless, and inefficient acts I had to perform during my best years, it doesn’t bother me. At least the effort I put into it remains. And I can feel it in my heart.
That’s the feeling I have, as someone who’s felt this, who’s experienced it.
I got soul but I’m not a solider
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami↩