Archive

Every month I post a personal letter about my feelings and experiences here in Korea, or wherever I happen to be in the world at that time. Here you will find the most recent letter, as well as links to all previous letters. 

August 2012

Suwon
August 24, 2012

Dear Ireland

I’ve been kicking myself a little lately because even with so much free time on my hands, I don’t seem to be getting the same amount of work done that I would like to be getting done. In a recent post I ranted about having too many distractions and found it difficult to scratch things off my list. Things have gotten a little better – I think – and maybe it was the rant that allowed me to get much off my chest. Still productivity, or lack of, bothers me still.

I get a lot of free time with my job. I won’t say how much but I will say that I am granted the luxury of less than normal holiday time, as well as limited contact hours in the classroom. So when I don’t get what I want done as quickly and easily as I should it bothers me. Preparing for the arrival of +1 is obviously taking up more of my time now, and a lot of this revolves around caring for Herself and keeping her company during the day, but I still have ample time.

Still, as the days pass things get done, gradually. Herself gets bigger and bigger and, bit by bit, I finish things I’ve being saying I should be doing.

One of those things that I haven’t had close to the top of this list is writing another blog post. I’ve kind of gone off the boil. I don’t really feel inclined to talk about anything going on in Korea so much – I think other people do a better job – and I also don’t feel that pushed towards talking about just day to day things that I usually go on about. I have a list of posts for this blog that I will eventually get around to, but for now I really am not inclined.

I know that I go through different things with varying levels of enthusiasm, and I know if I look back through my posts I’ll see months where I have written less, and months where I’ve churned out three or four posts every week. Now I’m not sure what to think as I do, I suppose, have some reasons for toning down the content.

Recently I bought an iPad to use, mostly, as an e-reader and browser. The reason is that I find a lot of content when I’m on twitter that I want to read but because I mostly use twitter on my phone and computer, I find it hard to read much of it. The phone’s screen is very small and my eyes hurt, and my computer is big clunky old thing that isn’t very mobile and the battery lasts about as long as it takes to boil the kettle, maybe less. So I figured the iPad would be a sound purchase.

Still, I keep looking over at my previously mentioned old dinosaur of a Fujitsu (about five years old, maybe more), sitting lonely in the corner of the room. This is my old warhorse when it comes to the written word,  and to really feel like I’m getting work done, I have to turn this on.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. I came across this blog post on a website called the Blog of the Impossible. In the article, the writer describes an odd but enlighening encounter with the inventor of the computer, Russell Kirch. Frankly, it reads as a bizarre situation, and the author is clearly and justifiably humbled by the interaction. The reason I’m talking about this is not because Russel Kirch is obviously an amazing scientist and inventor who has achieved much more than me, but because what he said about computers and creativity:

“I’ve been against Macintosh company lately. They’re trying to get everyone to use iPads and when people use iPads they end up just using technology to consume things instead of making things. With a computer you can make things. You can code, you can make things and create things that have never before existed and do things that have never been done before.”

“That’s the problem with a lot of people”, he continued, “they don’t try to do stuff that’s never been done before, so they never do anything, but if they try to do it, they find out there’s lots of things they can do that have never been done before.”

It’s an interesting notion. All around us are the tools to make the world a better place for ourselves, but we can be easily distracted by other entities which confuse us, making us wonder about what is the right pathway to be taking. Creation is such a simple concept and without it the world wouldn’t exist in it’s current state. In fact, I’d be willing to argue that without human innovation, humans would be still hanging from trees.

Making or creating new things can be as simple as changing your breakfast to the way you walk to work, or even just walking against the traffic going down the stairs in the subway – upset the norm. The blogosphere and twittersphere in Korea is a fine example of people going out of their way to upset the norm and to make changes to their life. In Korea, opportunities don’t happen for you and you have to step outside of your shell if you ever want move upwards. I suppose the same could be said of everywhere in the world.

Carried on from this idea is the second kind of reason that I’m feeling less inclined to write posts here of late. I’m beginning to think that I should be looking for markets for a lot of my essays here. I don’t see why not. I think they’re good enough, but many are probably too long for many people to read – I know when I look at a post on a website I automatically check how long it is before I started reading it. Certain people look for certain types of writing to read, and some people don’t want to read long articles, and some people do.

What does this blog have to do with that though? First of all, please excuse the comparison but I recall reading that it was a shame that T. S. Elliot spent so much time writing academic criticism and not writing poetry as this kind of swallowed up his creativity for years. I get the feeling more and more of late that I shouldn’t spend two or three hours writing a blog post, but  I should spend that time writing something else, be that an article for a magazine that will pay, or an essay, or some poems that have not gone past the stage of scribbled in my Moleskine notebook.

In Korea there’s not that many options other than blogging if you want to write and publish regularly, and while that’s a fairly narrow minded perspective to take, it is the truth if you ask me. There are only three newspapers, a handful of magazines in English, and then there’s a number of websites of varying quality and content. Fortunately, the internet is a magnificent gateway to so many more sources for anything you are involved in, and especially writing.

It may sound like an odd concept, but a computer can actually be a gateway to a more productive and creative life. This holds true in Korea for certain. Although, much like any piece of technology, so much depends on what you actually do with it!

To post a comment or to read further letters, please visit the original letter by clicking on the month and year.

June 2012

Are ye well? I have been doing my best to find the time to write this month’s letter before the month is out for a very good reason. As much as I would like to write about Ireland’s disastrous showing …

May 2012

I feel obliged to offer an apology for a lack of social commentary on life in Korea. Being Irish, I complain all the time, even when things are going well. If you were to sit with me for …

March 2012

Ever since I first arrived in Korea, March has always been a milestone. It is one of many milestones, but it’s one that is always hanging over me, not in a particularly negative or …

January 2012

For starters, Happy New Year. Another year of my life in Korea has passed. This March will mark the seven year anniversary of my first arrival in Korea. It seems like that long. That’s …

November 2011

A few months ago I was elected as the new Chairman of the Irish Association of Korea. I suppose I had it coming to me. So, what about it? The Irish Association of Korea has …

October 2011

There are probably two moments in my life which I regard as life defining. Of all the moments which made a difference, the two most important really changed who I was and where I …

September 2011

You may not know this but Koreans are known as the Irish of the east. I didn’t know this until a while after I arrived here first in 2005. Of course, when I was young …

August 2011

In little more than a week I will be gone. Two months and bit seemed a long time when I had first planned the trip. Fortunately, this letter is nothing to do with nostalgic goodbyes …

July 2011

Or, should I say Korea? I’m all a bit mixed up at the moment – I missed last month’s post and then this month I’m not sure who I should be writing to. …

May 2011

The summer is upon us. Of course we all have different ideas of what the summer is. For me, it’s the holidays. This June, I will be working through my summer holidays but don’t …

April 2011

Apologies for my lack of correspondence, I’ve been busy believe it or not. I won’t bore you with the details but I would in fact prefer to inform you of one of …

March 2011

Saint Patrick’s Day came and went. In Seoul there was probably one of the biggest and best Saint Patrick’s festivals in the Irish Association of Korea’s history, or so I was told. …

February 2011

Recently I’ve been in touch with the Irish Ambassador to Korea, Dr. Eamonn McKee. There is a feeling among some of the Irish people I know here that he is keen to promote …

January 2011

It is the Monday before Korean New Year, and a month after normal New Year. It’s time for a new year’s resolution. I thought about and talked to some people about New Year’s resolutions, …

Christmas 2010

Christmas! Yes, Christmas. It was an interesting one to say the least. It was a busy Christmas too, but not in the usual sense because of the news delivered to me on …

November 2010

I’m writing this month’s letter on my birthday. Odd perhaps, but I felt that it’s an ideal time to share my thoughts and reflect on Ireland and Korea, especially since there is …

October 2010

It’s kind of been a weird phase for me writing lately, because for a while there was nothing else I could do or focus on. Specifically, I’ve been trying to contribute to a …

September 2010

This month I came across a small article which made the front page of a leading daily newspaper, the Joongang Daily, here in Korea. It was one of the kinds of articles that make …

August 2010

Not being one to complain about things I can do nothing about, or more importantly, things that have nothing to do with me, I will do my best in this letter to …

July 2010

I forget about every July I have spent in Korea and I still complain about the weather when it comes around. I don’t bother to compare it as it’s just one of those things …

June 2010

I’ve left this letter until the very end of the month because of my two week trip to Ireland for my brother’s wedding. I did originally plan to write this from Ireland but things …

May 2010

Like many “western” countries or “westernised” countries, Korea is perceived as a modern democratic nation, a country that represents the development and organisation expected of the young twenty-first century. It is a country, like many countries at all points of …

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