First of all, let me make it clear that I am not feeling sorry for myself today.

 

It’s just that there are certain days when you think about who you are, where you are at now and the things you’ve done—and things just don’t add up the way they probably should have if you had just done things differently.

 

Well, maybe to some people that might seem like the cosmic tumblers are beginning to click for “I’m feeling sorry for myself” spell. However, there are days—and you probably know the ones I am talking about—when your mind starts wandering and you start wondering about what the heck is happening in your life, especially if you have been having some down time or going through some sort of crisis.

 

That’s kind of how I felt this morning when I was trudging up a hill—weighed down with my backpack filled with books, a CD player and umbrella—on my way to my morning class of non-communicative and comatose-teetering freshmen architecture students. The hill is a steep climb and about halfway up I hear a car speeding up the hill and quickly move to the side to avoid being hit (it makes no difference to drivers that there is a steady stream of students up and down the hill).

 

As always, I am very careful when walking anywhere in this country—you really do have to walk defensively.

 

And that’s when I stop and think, “What the hell am I doing here? What the hell am I doing walking up a hill on my way to a class of students who could care less about speaking English and getting paid a fraction of what I used to get paid with much less vacation time?

 

I was once in the U.S. Air Force and responsible for making sure multi-million dollar jets could meet mission sorties. I once got carte blanche treatment writing for a newspaper here and interviewed diplomats, veterans, politicians, and celebrities.

 

I could have been a contender.

 

Wait a minute; I thought I said I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself?

 

Okay, let me put it a different way. What the hell am I doing here pushing myself up this hill like that fellow in the Myth of Sisyphus? Hmm…that sounds much better and the kind of philosophical underpinning I wanted.

 

It is getting harder and harder to get up this hill every day.

 

It’s getting harder and harder every day to come up with a handful of reasons—other than the obvious one, a steady paycheck, albeit a small one—to stay here. There is nothing keeping me in Korea other than that steady paycheck and being close—flying distance close—to On in Laos.

 

I have no reason to feel sorry for myself anyway—especially with my Mom battling cancer. When I think about what she’s going through, being back home all alone and having to have chemotherapy and radiation treatments, it would be so selfish of me to even remotely feel sorry for myself here in Korea.

 

If anything I am feeling selfish for all those years that I had my fun running around Asia and convincing myself that I wasn’t doing anything wrong as long as I sent some money home every month.

 

Now, all those years are catching up with me and I am feeling guilty and disappointed with myself for not doing the things that I should have done when I had the chance. Yeah, that’s what it is. I am not feeling sorry for myself. I am feeling disappointed.

 

Turning 50 in a month-and-a-half doesn’t help much either.

 

And it gets harder and harder to get up that hill.