Maximizing Opportunity

I’d like to start out by saying that this particular blog post was inspired by my wonderful parents who flew 2000 miles to visit me recently. Thank you for blessing me with opportunity, your trust, unforgettable lessons, and most importantly, life.

It’s been said that one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever have to make is to walk away, or take a leap of faith. Being a scatter-brained, normally indecisive, type A kind of person, I tend to narrow down my decisions via a pros and cons list. But by doing that, a safe and comfortable life decision will typically always win over a risky and unknown life decision. And let’s be real here, where’s the fun in that?

There are people who strongly state they have no regrets in life. Well, I find this very hard to believe. Everyone has at least one moment in their past that had they known what the outcome would be, they’d choose a different option instead. For example, every once in a while, E will mention how much he misses playing hockey on a team. He often lingers on the possibility of what would’ve happened had he attended this one exclusive hockey camp. He says that he didn’t go for many reasons: the time commitment, intimidating players, no time for soccer or baseball, no time to spend with his girlfriend or his friends, etc. The “reasons why not to do something” list goes on and on. But there’s always that thought in the back of his head that perhaps had he taken a risk and went to that hockey camp, there could be a chance that he’d currently be playing professional hockey (I’m not kidding you folks, he’s that good). The moral of the story is, the cons list was too overpowering and he thus missed out on a potentially life-changing opportunity.

But now I’m going to give you an example of a pair of people who have gotten to where they are today by jumping on the opportunity train, threading tiny needles, and defining fate. My dad was a radio host in little Oshkosh, WI. Due to the upstanding job he had been doing since being hired, his supervisor granted him a pick from his “drawer of gift certificates”. My dad randomly chose a free trial at Min Hur’s Tae-Kwon-Do school. He’s always been quite the athlete, and decided to give it a try. Over time, he progressed from belt to belt, and eventually became a protegé of sorts, the Daniel-son to Mr. Miyagi, so to speak. Years later, Master Min Hur invited my dad to visit South Korea with him, the birthplace of Tae-Kwon-Do. Despite being in a financial rut, my father jumped on the rare opportunity. While in South Korea, Master Min Hur introduced my father to a family close to him. That’s when he met my mother. Although the language barrier was a dividing force on its own, the spark was too strong to ignore. After leaving South Korea, they wrote for months. Although I have yet to read these letters, I can only imagine how passionate they were. Passionate enough that after a year of writing, he flew back to South Korea and asked her to marry him. She took a risk, and said yes. Together, they flew back to America and started their life here, from the very bottom.

Now, over twenty years later of building a family, financial hardships, and testing family ties, they’re where they only could have hoped to be in life. With a successful business and two children going/gone through college, they know how blessed they truly are. From my perspective, I owe it to both my dad for picking the right gift certificate out of that drawer many years ago, and my mom for taking a leap of faith and moving across the globe to start a new life. They are a prime example of people who have completely changed their life via a single seemingly wild decision.

After that blog post-turned-novel, I urge you to 4. Make a scary, life-changing decision. The scarier, the better. Understand that this opportunity probably will never present itself ever again. Explore the unknown. Let the possibility of what could be, fuel you into optimal drive. Take that job. Pick up and move across the country. Commit to a relationship with someone you love dearly, even if they’re thousands of miles away. Jump knowing that you may not land on two feet, but if you do, you’re sure to walk away enlightened.

My parents on their recent visit to Miami

My parents on their recent visit to Miami

My beautiful family and myself on the day of my college graduation

My beautiful family and myself on the day of my college graduation

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Love & Limits

With the holidays come and gone, I’m feeling rather nostalgic. Especially since this was the first December that I’ve been separated from my family and the bitter cold, yet oddly comforting, MN winter. Although I came home for a brief week leading up to Christmas, it wasn’t nearly long enough. Having to fly back on Christmas didn’t help. Nonetheless, you don’t really realize how much your loved ones mean to you until they’re unavailable during a time of need.

As sung by the great Christmas musicians like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and of course Mariah Carey, the epitome of the holiday season is love. No love, makes for a sad Dan Fogelberg (though melancholy, Same Old Lang Syne remains one of my favorite Christmas songs to date). As my first addition to The Infinity List, I had to make it a grand one, and it all revolves around a seemingly simple idea: I have loved and been loved, unconditionally, relentlessly, and compassionately. Yet never regrettably. I’ve fallen in love so hard that whenever I dreamed about losing that person, I woke up in tears, exasperated. I’ve loved my family so much that when I left them to move to Miami, I cried from the moment I left and periodically for months afterwards. I’ve loved so deep that I was willing to remain committed to that person, despite constantly being separated by miles upon miles of land and water. I’ve loved so honestly that I can look into the eyes of that friend and tell them the brutal truth, whether they want to hear it or not. I’ve been loved in such a manner that I’m willing to take their advice and trust that these changes I can make towards my life will be beneficial, and to act upon them. I’ve been loved so compassionately that the mere thought of him springs a smile on my face and makes my heart stumble.

Though painful at times, without love I would have nothing. I literally mean, nothing. Love has opened doors for me that I once thought were nonexistent. It’s strung me up and kept me from breaking into small pieces and falling through the cracks. When I’ve been at my lowest of lows, it was ultimately love that beckoned me back into the light. Love is the reason that I am where I am today, and I could not be happier. Yesterday (Christmas Day), when we arrived back to our gray apartment and empty fridge, I instantly felt homesick to the point of tears. I couldn’t help thinking that the aura of home is missing from this place, it was all very unfamiliar. Until I had an epiphany: love is what has brought me here. It wasn’t until this fleeting moment when I felt entirely alone with my feelings that I had realized this. Love will take you numerous places, as long as you allow it to. Never take advantage of it, and 1. Linger every once in a while on the fact that you are loved. You’ll be amazed at what that thought will do for your attitude, and your life.

Happy Holidays! Spreading the love, A&E.

Happy Holidays! Spreading the love, A&E.