Entry #31 – August 25, 1997 / Monday

Ugh, when is it going to end?

“Focus your mind and keep your body straight.”

My eyes were closed, but I could tell my teacher was walking among us. We were sitting on the floor with our legs crossed, hands on our knees, backs upright. I stretched my upper body even straighter as my teacher’s footsteps came near. Why are we doing this? I felt mildly irritated. Last week, out of nowhere, my baduk teacher began including a meditation session at the beginning of class every day. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t understand the purpose of this practice, and it felt like a waste of time. My mind was blank at first, then it slowly drifted to the memory of my conversation with Mina earlier.

Today was the first day after our six-week summer break. Ms. Song asked the class to take  turns and talk about our most memorable experiences during the summer. My training trip came into my mind. But as my classmates shared their experiences, I noticed almost all of them were talking about their family vacations. So, when it was my turn, I spoke about my family trip to the beach.

“Hajin, I expected you to talk about your baduk training.” Mina said at the end of the school.

“Yeah, I thought about that too.”


“I don’t know, everyone else was talking about summer vacations. I thought the beach story made more sense.”

“What sense?”

“You know, what I did was not normal, and I wasn’t sure how to explain it anyway.”

“Well, I think your trip was super cool.”

As I recalled this moment, I wondered what I was feeling about my training trip. Did I want to hide it subconsciously?

“Okay, open your eyes.”

I immediately opened my eyes and stopped thinking about it.

The territorial balance seemed okay, but I had a weak group. It was difficult for Tom, my opponent, to attack, but it was still my burden to ensure it would live. Suddenly Tom raised his hand, and said, “Teacher, I have to go.”

“What? Already?” I asked.

“I’ve started taking piano lessons,” replied Tom. His reply shocked me. Tom didn’t join us in our training trip, and that told me that perhaps Tom was not as serious about baduk as I was. Still, Tom had been spending most of his days at baduk school like me, and I always assumed Tom was on the same path as Colin, Brad, and myself. Could he do this to us?

“I thought we were all going to try to become professional players!”

“Well, I do want to be a pro, but my mom also wants me to learn piano.” He didn’t seem sad or upset, though.

Mr. Kim, our baduk teacher came to us and looked at our game.

“We will have to say this game is draw. Too close to judge.”

The teacher said in a perfectly normal tone and voice, as if nothing unusual was going on. I felt confused but didn’t say anything more. I just started taking my stones from the board.

That night, I asked my mom.

“Did you ever want me to learn piano?”

“Why? Do you want to learn piano?”


Mom looked suspicious.

“What’s going on? Did something happen today?”

“Nothing, it’s just strange that Tom’s mother wants Tom to learn piano.”

“Why is that strange to you? You have many friends who are taking piano lessons.”

“You know, I thought Tom was fully committed to baduk. Plus, he didn’t sound like he wanted to learn piano.”

“I see. Your father and I want you and Jane to learn whatever you wish to learn.”

“Really? Anything I want?”

“Maybe not anything, but most anything? But you do want to learn baduk, right?”

“I think so.”

“Then don’t worry. We will support you in your path.”


“Good night.”

“Good night.”

I didn’t feel like my questions were answered, but I couldn’t tell what my questions were either. So, I closed my eyes.

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