Caveat: The Calculus of My Stay in Korea

Last night at work there was a bit of an emotional conflaguration. It wasn't that pleasant.

When things get intense and unpleasant at work, I always retreat into a kind of "well, I can always leave if really want to." I return to the eternal, tenuous calculus of my stay in Korea, and my never-ending, simple dilemma: should I stay in Korea, or should I return to the US?

Of course, I was struggling with this problem even before I got cancer. When I got cancer, that felt like a kind of fate – it made the decision for me, at least for a substantial period. Many people here showed me great kindness and loyalty, too, and that kept my heart here, even with the many frustrations and difficulties.

Lately, I feel like my frustration with my goals and life in Korea has become intractable. I continue to fail to learn Korean. I feel great despair about the project, and shame, because I am supposed to be a linguist and a language teacher. I continue to be be a poor teacher with respect to the hagwon environment. I am dissatisfied with curriculum, but I lack the talent and capiticity to bring to reality any alternative. After all these years, I doubt I really understand the business environment of an English hagwon very well.

So I have great dissatisfaction with what I decided (during my hospital stay) were the two most important goals in my life: trying to become a better teacher, and learning the Korean language. The reason I nevertheless continue at Karma and in Korea is really because of my sense of loyalty to the people around me, and also because of a kind of laziness: no change is easier than change. Finally, there is an aspect which I tend to emphasize in conversation but which isn't actually as emotionally important as I make it out to be: I continue to stay in Korea because I feel a lot of fear about the healthcare system in my home country – American healthcare is quite chaotic and unreliable, and very expensive, compared to Korea.

So to simplify the above, I can identify five reasons to stay in Korea:

  1. learning Korean and my love of Korean culture
  2. becoming a better teacher
  3. loyalty to my coworkers and to the Karma community, and the kindness shown to me
  4. laziness about changing my life
  5. fear of not finding good healthcare

Taken together, these are good enough reasons. But items 1 and 2 in the above list are not feeling particularly compelling, lately, and experiences like last night's cause me to question whether my loyalty (item 3) is perhaps misplaced or substantially irrelevant.

And so that leaves items 4 and 5. But in fact, don't you think that laziness and fear are poor reasons to do anything? Including, am I really only staying in Korea, at this point, out of laziness and fear? That seems pretty stupid.

Somewhat relatedly… 

In a moment of weakness and frustration, I forgot my facebook boycott. Perhaps I will start my blog cross-posting here, again – but I haven't decided. I don't like feeling OBLIGATED to keep track of facebook, or misleading people into thinking that I am paying attention to it – which was a major problem with the automated cross-posting from my blog: people thought I was looking at facebook because my blog posts were appearing here, and became upset when I didn't "notice" their comments.

So perhaps I will turn on the automated cross-posting to the facebook again. Let me know (not on facebook but via my preferred contact methods) if you think this is a good idea.

[daily log: walking, 6km]