sR: Smile Vancouver

you’re right. this picture is scary

sorry. but I’m happy with this one.


The first day was as tiring as it was full – and it’s giving me a lot to reflect on.

I parked, he came downstairs, and we were off trekking our way through downtown Vancouver. A comically small city that I ended up walking most of – as I found out the hard way. Each step pounding the pavement made me feel so alive as we did one big loop that took us from tacos to steam clocks, a marina with seaplanes taking off and landing with force and precision, conversations and tourists and a magical night of sushi. (Sushi Bar Maumi in Vancouver if you’re so inclined)

We got to Stanley Park as our day was winding down and we were just talking and waiting for our dinner appointment time to magically arrive.

We happened upon this sculpture garden in the middle of the three-way intersection called “A-maze-ing Laughter” And this particular sculpture from the collection (pictured above) made me really sit and ponder what it meant to smile.

그 여자는 성격이 소심합니다
그래서 웃는 법을 배웠답니다

그 여자백지영

This legendary Korean recording artist was on a popular variety show talking about how this particular line from one of her most popular songs really gets to people because of how deeply her fans resonate with this particular sentiment.

This woman is timid – so that’s why she had to learn to smile.

ma’am you got me cutting onions here too T.T

and in all honestly this is what I was thinking about as I spent a few precious moments thinking of this song as I stared at this sculpture. The way the face was formed and contorted to look as if the smile was not natural but a necessary mask.

Not natural but wholly necessary.

sometimes it’s required

We move on from this sculpture and make our way to hike the perimeter of Stanely Park and we continue our conversation now moving into hour number six.

We move on from subject to subject being challenged at some points, rolling into uncontrolled fits of laughter and even finding ourselves disagreeing about the dumbest things. We made it to the 1/3 mark around the peninsula called Third Beach: We find a small worn down bench by the shore. The water looked so clear and inviting, just ready for some swimming, but we all knew better. This was the Pacific Northwest. The water has been well below freezing for quite some time now.

We found our way to a conversation that I cannot bear to recap or review here but the sticking point that got to me, was what my brother Chan said.

I think you’re being way too selfish trying to make sure that you come out of this with the least possible hurt. Take your time.


right? This fucking guy.

pushed forward with his life well before my age and he’s telling me to wait.

But emotions aside:

he’s right.

I hate it when this happens

I was up late with my brothers. It was a group chat on kakao where our timing finally caught up because we were always trying to juggle three different time zones

The conversation finally got going when I become super vulnerable.

of course. what else is new?

And the topic I found myself so raw was about being timid.

After a long time, working under pressure, I was a shot fighter.

There it was. Burnout is not dangerous because of fatigue – burnout is dangerous because of the confidence that slowly and subtly evaporates.

You didn’t know that you lost it – but one day it’s barely there.

How do you sum up the courage when there is no courage left. Living and working under pressure evaporates courage as if there was no liquid stage. From solid to gas the movement happens without our knowledge and before you realize it…

I was being selfish. With life, with ministry, with my time – this is what my singleness could afford – this is what my freedom cost me. I am downright selfish.

And when I am alone – I don’t have to be confronted with this reality.

We sat there back in my friend’s apartment sipping away at anything we could find to help us think. (layer cake)

The hour was getting late but we went forward with all sorts of analysis and prognostications. We made bold predictions and said all sorts of things that I’m having a hard time recollecting at this moment but that comment still stuck.

It’s the eager tongue that has it’s owner in a regret-inducing panic as soon it touches the frozen dry metal. It’s the stubborn old sticker that leaves ALL of its adhesive residue after the content of the sticker had relinquished its utility. Just like that, the thought was stuck and I was stuck.

I am selfish.

Truthfully, I’ve never heard that before directed towards me.

7 hours of walking and talking, two tacos and a beer, a load of green tea to accompany a medley of wonderful sushi to get me to realize that I need to stop making this about me.

And maybe this is why this photo and this sculpture speaks to me.

My immediate impact from the current discourse of life requires my smile. I don’t know why but it does and it is required so I am compelled to comply.

But underneath my smile is the same timid 9 year old that got jumped at the bus stop on the first day of school. It’s the same timid 11 year old that finally learned how to fight back. Ever milestone in my life was a milestone because I learned to survive.

Turns out, learning to smile like that creepy ass statue was also a milestone I achieved.

I just didn’t know it yet.

Because it’s not about me.

It never was.


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