HanSarang Thoughts #17: Checklist

As important as it is to embrace chaos and spontaneity, sometimes I need to write some basic things that I need to take care of and plant them on the fucking wall. Look at it. Do it. Stop posting shiet on facebook & twitter. Get engaged with the real world and take care of what needs to be done. This also means stop staying up at 3am, mindlessly staring at the computer, soaking up million bits of useless info that will be discarded minutes later.

Here’s to fucking change. And to making a damn checklist.


HanSarang Thoughts #16: The Rose That Grew From Concrete

Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s law is wrong it
learned to walk with out having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping it’s dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.

“The Rose That Grew From Concrete” is the name of this beautiful little poem that was written by Tupac Shakur, a rapper who many may not have known that he was a prolific poet as well. I read this poem in his poetry collection back during my sophomore year of college and to this day, it has been one of the most inspiring poems that have shaped my determination to succeed in what I set myself out to do.

For most of my life, I have been surrounded by “you can’t”, “you won’t make it”, and “you’re not that special” folks. Folks who regarded me with neglect & silence to my existence and my dreams. They have come from people like my father, some of my high school teachers, and even some of my friends. Now, I can honestly say that I would not be where I am without them and so I thank them as much as the people who have believed in me. And just like this poem, my stubbornness pushed me through the concrete to be where I am now, living my dream and making money from it. Obviously, the room to improve is infinite and so there’s no room to be complacent but I am extremely thankful for everything I have accomplished in my life so far and the people that I cherish and love dearly.

So this post is for Tupac as June 16th marks his birthday. Happy birthday to a true legend, a beautiful poet, and a role model for people like me to keep pushing through our own concrete so that we may breathe fresh air and be the rose that we were meant to be.

HanSarang Thoughts #15: Deflated Balloon / Hit and Run

I woke up this morning feeling like a deflated balloon, an Eeyore you could say. Each step was 10 pounds too heavy, each breath of air was an effort. The world just seemed slower and I just drifted here and there.

This is a dangerous mood to be in because when left unchecked, it can turn into something quite destructive. It is here that one must keep themselves busy, no matter how strong the urge may be to just sit around and not do anything. I believe in situations like these that production is the basis of morality. This is something my acting teacher would say at my acting school but I know it easily applies to people who are not actors.

So against my deflated stubborness, I get myself to be busy throughout the day, to see people and engage myself with them 100%. It was a day that saying “yes” was crucial, even if I didn’t feel like it.

And boy, did I not regret it.

New sights were explored and experienced. Stories to be told. A new favorite hangout spot to now have fun at. All because I was willing to say yes when a friend asked me at 10pm if I wanted to go out, even when I didn’t feel like it. The adventure didn’t stop there though.

My night ended with a 2nd hit & run I experienced in my life when I was with my friend and a new friend as we were waiting for a parking spot near 2am in Koreatown for some tasty 24 hour Korean food. As we were waiting, a car behind us backs out his spot and collides into my back bumper. We get out of the car and then we see the car driving away. Not to be content with a motherfucker like that, I chased the fucker down on foot, T-1000 style, while my friend got his license plate and his car model. When I got to the driver, I ended up going so fast before I stopped that I tore off the driver’s side view mirror. Ignoring the mirror hanging off on its side, I looked straight at the driver and told him matter of factly that I got his license plate and it would be wise for him to stop. He simply responded “OK” (with his Asian girlfriend in the car giving me a blank stare) and drove off into the distance.

I’m standing there a bit dumbfounded since one would think it would be much more convenient to exchange driver information instead of driving off and end up committing a hit & run felony. I was also dumbfounded by all the loitering Koreans that were watching this happen and just stood theThis occasion also marked the first time I ended up having to call 911 in my life.

Lordy lord, what a night.

HanSarang Thoughts #14: Dance

I am certainly not a dancer by any sensible definition but I certainly love to dance. Dancing without any restraints, without any care for the world and its petty things, whether it be on the club dance floor, the ballroom, your living room, or in the car stuck in traffic, there is no exhilarating satisfaction quite like the feeling you get when you shake everything loose and just


HanSarang Thoughts #13: Don’t Do Everything at Once, Kiddo

Typically a syndrome of the young and the restless (no connection to the CBS soap opera) is that we feel inspired that we need to do everything all at once. We want stability, financial wealth, happiness, a dog that breathes fire, and so on and so on. But unfortunately, when we try to do everything, we end up doing absolutely nothing and become extremely upset about it.

“What are my accomplishments that I have made so far? Have I made any in my life?”

There was a time where I used to ask this to myself on a constant basis and drove myself crazy with depression by doing so. It made me question my self worth excessively, especially when I compare myself to others who have done it better, faster…others who have done more in a less period of time.

Similar to how it is best to think of one’s journey as a marathon, and not a race, it is also important to take pride in every single victory you have achieved, big or small. If life’s journey is like climbing Mount Everest, be proud that each day you have climbed this high. Even if you only climbed 100 ft for that one day, that’s 100ft more than what you did the previous day. Even if you find yourself stumbling back, whether by your own doing or that of fate, the biggest victory is that you have decided not to give up or descend down to the ground.

We often believe that steps for success has to be relevant to our career or monetary/influence worth. That is not the case. Because if all of your fancy titles, the number of popular tv shows you were on, and everything of these matters were stripped away from you, what do you have left? It is here that most of us will believe that we have nothing, that we ARE nothing. It is here that we believe wee are only the sum of our tangible successes and contributions we make to society.

So what riches can we give when we have nothing to offer that is tangible? That is where each and every one of us have our unique treasures. Some of us have the innate ability to make everybody in the room smile. Others have the burning desire to question and are constantly compelled to seek the truth. Our family. Our friends. The ones we can depend on when we stumble and fall…these amazing people are also part of the foundation that you must be thankful for. These are the gifts we often neglect because we feel they are worth nothing celebrating. It’s certainly not an Oscar or a Grammy or a $1 million paycheck.

But when we can depend on our very essence as the foundation to why we are worth celebrating, then everything can build from there.

HanSarang Thoughts #12: The Demons in All of Us

Earlier, I spoke that there is an artist that lives inside all of us but within that statement lies the uncomfortable fact that many of us don’t want to express anything because we hold so much within ourselves. Heartbreaks, misery, depression, rage, loss, all of these burdens we keep within ourselves. There is the great value in confiding with our loved ones, for those who understand the undeniable truth that no human being can live with so much heaviness in their heart.

Sometimes, letting others know of our pain is not enough. Sometimes, the pain is so great that words do it no justice. Sometimes, it needs to come out in a lion’s roar, a ferocious dance, a possessed violin solo, or in a film where one can transform that burning energy into something positive.

But what if the things we hold within ourselves are the things we are most afraid of? Beyond just extreme emotions, what if they are repressed memories, memories of our past that we are not too proud about? The aspects of ourselves that if others knew, they would call us a monster or a psychopath? Should we keep those within ourselves, always afraid of the darkness that lies within us?

I believe that the greatest strength lies in being honest about our weaknesses. Strength comes from the ability to express our deepest flaws…our darkest demons that we hold at bay. When we can make peace with our demons, when we can embrace them as being one of the defining forces that shape who we are as individuals, that is expression at its finest.

Expression, especially when dealing with the darker colors in our lives, can come out extremely raw. We all like to think that art is clean and refined and while there is a place for that, I find it infinitely more interesting when I can literally see the blunt edges and the imperfections. Of course, as time goes by, you can take that mass and chisel it but it is crucial to accept that the ability to express the things we hold tight within ourselves is a tremendous victory and a beautiful one at that as well.

I say all of these things because I have found salvation in letting myself go and all of the bad experiences I’ve had throughout my life. It came in the form of spoken poetry and instead of explaining it, I will show it:

Several years in the making with this piece shown being the final version, I have been blessed to show the various versions through people who were willing to listen and contribute. We think there isn’t anyone out there who will care, but believe me, there are. And they can come from places you least expect.

To this day, I feel like I am growing younger even though my body is growing older. Art, expression, these are the things that truly can make one’s soul be forever young and vibrant.

So the demons you put at arm’s length…I dare you to give them a hug. Hear them out. Hear what they have to say and you in return, express it. Put all fears aside and be bold to be vulnerable. You will be very much surprised at how many people will be going through the same things you are 🙂

HanSarang Thoughts #11: The Artist in All of Us

When I was kid, I was forced to play the violin (an unfortunate case found in many Asian kids) and for the most part, I hated it. Especially in the first 3 years of learning, I would always move the minutes hand a slight degree on my violin teacher’s clock hand each time when she was out of the room to go to the restroom or get some tea (or me making up some request to have bread or whatever). This continued on for another 5 years as I was (strongly) encouraged to join the middle school orchestra. It was fun, but really, I stayed because the girls were pretty to look at.

When I moved to Korea for high school, my mom wanted to keep up the training. They got me a violin teacher, a rather dainty (but very pretty) woman who would have a hard time trying to get me to practice. For the longest time, it would be extremely difficult to get me to practice anything over and over, let alone understand the meaning of taking things slow and embracing patience.

Okay before I wind this into a long story of my history with the violin…long story short, I abandoned playing the violin.

It was only recently that I decide to pick it up again, after being inspired by my acting class that an actor should reinvigorate any forgotten forms of expression they used to do. Slowly but surely, my hatred of playing the violin soon transformed into love and now, it gives me the greatest solace and comfort every time I play.

I believe this applies just as strongly to anyone who is not an actor. I don’t believe it when people say to me that they are not artistic or expressive enough…if you feel emotions, the kind that just wants to burst out, whether it be happiness, rage, or sadness, you are an artist simply because in the struggle we all find ourselves in lies the potential for the artist to express the complexity that is our lives. It may not happen immediately to some, it may take years for others, but when we reach the point where words fail us…that, that is when the magic happens.

Expression in these artistic forms is something to cherish because they show what words cannot. Acting is only a tiny aspect of what expression, the full extent of it, can truly be. Whether it be painting, drawing, writing poetry/prose/novels, dancing, singing,  or playing any sort of instrument, I strongly believe that each and every one of us have talents (that we have abandoned long ago), or a desire to express something but have never taken the first step

I totally understand those who are afraid to take the first step. Expression is hard, especially because once you do, you are exposed to the world and whatever hurtful things they may fling upon you. It is, after all, so much easier to not express anything and to burrow our heads in our monotonous everyday lives.

But who can honestly say they have lived a full, satisfactory life by playing it easy?