Interrupted Meridians: Korea in Mourning

For three weeks now I’ve been getting acupuncture for a wrist injury. As is standard in Eastern medicine, the doctor checked my tongue to learn more about my overall health. He discovered that my qi (natural energy) is very low. In order to balance my qi, he suggested that I “take it easy and eat a low fat diet. No fatty meats and no sweet bread.” That meant giving up one of my favourite Friday night traditions: barbecuing samgyeopsal 삼겹살 with Byongchan while listening to our favourite Korean radio host Bae Chul Soo play classic rock and the top American Billboard hits — his show is a little piece of home.

This diagnosis got me wondering about communication. In order to regulate my qi, the doctor stuck two needles at different points in my foot. In order to rework the enflamed ligaments in my right wrist, he put two needles in my left foot, three needles in my right hand, and one needle in my right arm. These points were all communicating to each other via the meridians in my body. The wrist is healing quite well, but it will take time and effort for my qi to restore itself.

acupuncture under a heat lamp
acupuncture under a heat lamp

Why will it take so much time?

Because my habits get in the way of the meridians. I like pies and pastries. I like beer and chicken. I like samgyeopsal. In order to heal my body, my mind has to get out of the way. I need to give up my bad habits to make room for those points in my body to communicate with each other and do their job. In essence, I need to listen to the messages that my body is sending me.

You may wonder how all this relates to Korea in mourning. As you have surely heard, a ferry full of high school students and their teachers has sunk and there is very little doubt as to the fate of the souls that remain on board. And why do they remain on board? Because the meridians of communication were interrupted. Interrupted by ego, by pride, by fear, by confusion, by upbringing, by habit. From one point to the other, messages were not transmitted. Whether it was the lack of a message from the captain, or whether it was not being able to listen to their own hearts, now we all mourn these students and grieve for the loss their families are suffering. Poor communication came at a high cost.

And last night, I did not stop our Friday night ritual. Once again, I interrupted the healing communication in my body. Interrupted by ego, by desire, by upbringing, by habit.

But last night Bae Chul Soo didn’t share his usual repertoire. No top ten hits and no classics to groove to. He only played melancholy songs. Korea is in mourning.

7 thoughts on “Interrupted Meridians: Korea in Mourning

  1. It feels both hard and necessary to me to leave a comment. This post is undoubtedly a powerful read which leaves me feeling helpless, yet wishing to say 2 things:
    From my view, you’ve connected scattered pieces and communicated a complex message, a web of a message. I’ve read several stories here and they are connected, and they spread threads to many other stories, which have or have not been communicated by me or you or others. I mean to say this is interruption restored, in a way (maybe I am not expressing myself clearly!)
    And then, I read the lines about your Friday ritual and I imagine a very warm scene. I think ‘ritual’ is a word more telling than ‘habit’. Do people have (and keep having) bad rituals, like they do with bad habits? I don’t know, I just don’t know. I have a feeling that saying no to important personal moments seems interrupting some other level of communication.
    I hope you feel good about yourself and about the choices you make! I wish you that.

    And yes we mourn.


    1. I just love the way you think and write my dear. I read this comment about 5 times: first to enjoy the fact that you wrote, then to go deeper into the meaning, and the other 3 times, just to enjoy your play of words.

      Interruption restored. I just loved this explanation. The web was a delight. What I got from this explanation of webs and threads is that you have received greater understanding of perhaps my life, or either the events of the ferry. In either case, what I understand is that you have gained clarity. Is that about right?

      And you know, you really hit something deep in your interpretation of the Friday ritual. If we look at the concept of ritual, the intention is to bring light to a moment of importance. To celebrate the event. There seems to be less of a habit here, than I first thought. Of course, the ritual can happen without fatty pork, but that isn’t the point is it? :) Leaving the ritual could bring greater damage to my life. That is for sure.

      Thank you for this Ann. Truly. You added a new piece of love and understanding to my life.


      1. Oh, Josette, thank you, I surely didn’t aim that high with my comment! If my words could unintentionally add some love and understanding, I’m soo happy!)

        In your post by describing these different episodes and linking them to interrupted meridians of communication of different sorts, you made me see them more clearly for sure. Also, this to me was bringing pieces together. When looked at within a short distance, indeed there seem to be trouble in communicating whatever the situation implies. But viewing that all from aside, there appears balance. I see more about the picture from the way you paint it with different stories.

        Thank you so much for the words in your opening lines)) I thought my reply was about just as clumsy and unclear as my thoughts which I constantly struggle to give shape to, so that more people than just me could get what I have in mind. I’m happy you think I coped with the task this time.)) And as usual, the way we like each other’s wording is amazing and makes me smile! Surely your title is linguistically exceptional (to me).:)


  2. Once again Josette you have written as one with wonderful communication skills both with yourself and others. Just because you are ignoring the communication from your doctor and your brain doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. It’s a balance isn’t it? We don’t have control over everything in our lives and we don’t know when our lives will end. Do we live short happy indulged lives or try to prolong our lives to live well for longer?


    1. Wonderful questions Anna. This is it isn’t it. I think I would have answered it differently in my twenties: short and indulgent all the way! But as I get older, and I see how my body is less resilient, I look to ways to prolong it. I think this is the challenge: how to shift from the 20s me to the near 40s me?

      But this is an interesting unfolding of events. Yesterday the doctor said that my qi seems to have improved. I didn’t do much to change. I’ve been sleeping more, but haven’t really changed my diet. :P

      And yes, in the end, we have no control. As the stories of the Sewol ferry and the Malaysian Air disappearance unfold, this becomes very clear.

      Thank you as always for being here Anna.


  3. Very thoughtful and clear writing. I’m sure the doctor would say similar things to me about my habits and my flow of energy, but then I thought again. My coffee-drinking habits stem from a lifetime (and I literally mean lifetime since my father started giving me some milky coffee as a morning wake-up ritual as far back as I can remember) of drinking coffee. And during that lifetime I’ve seen thoughts about coffee – ti’s benefits as well as it’s drawbacks – exchange position several times. It’s good for you, it’s bad for you…
    But I also agree that we need to lsiten more to what our bodies have to say. We need to listen to what we are hungry for, not what we think will be nice.
    And then on to Korea and the lack of listening, the lack of communication, the lack of positive feedback as displayed in the disaster. Greed, apathy, indifference – all played their part. And then, the very human thought “It can’t happen to me, to us” plyed it’s part as well, paralyzing students and crew alike.
    We are in mourning indeed.


    1. Dear Leonie,

      I totally hear what you are saying in relation to “listen to what we are hungry for”. I think it points to what Ann mentions in her comment above. My partner says the same thing: if you stress about what you should eat, then in the end it is probably healthier to eat what you want. That being said, if your body is reacting in the way mine was, taste is no longer a factor. My body was rejecting the food. It was time to listen in a different way. But that is also the ebb and flow of life.

      In relation to Korea, I have been following your thoughts on Facebook, and I am very grateful that you put them out there. You find a balance between compassion and creating greater cultural understanding. It is indeed tragic to see this play out as it is. So much confusion, anger, and guilt. My thought at the moment is that great learning must come from of this. It is my hope anyway.

      Thank you for your thoughts and heart Leonie.


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