I wanna free fall out into nothin’
Gonna leave this world for a while,
Now I’m free, free falliin
The last few years have felt like the United States has been in a perpetual free fall plummeting into societal abyss. The people have been divided and parts of our history that some of us were foolish enough to think were buried, crawled out from the depths and reared hatred with reckless abandon. Fabrics of our institution were frayed to scraps of threads that threatened to tear off our remaining dignity and expose us as a Nation of imposters. Some reaped the benefits from a system which falsified the declaration that all people are created equal and that life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness only apply to the selected few. The idea that a democracy could exist in a vast land with 300 million people from diverse backgrounds and differing beliefs seemed more like a fading ideal than a reality. Out of an inner strength that is unfathomable to me, the people who have been most underserved, victimized, enslaved, and abused, rose up in record numbers to ensure that the United States will have another opportunity to make good on its promise. Unlike what Trump experienced, I am feeling fairly confident that the estate of Tom Petty will not place a cease and assist order on the Biden/Harris White House for playing this song during their acceptance speech:
No I’ll stand my ground,
Won’t be turned around,
And I’ll keep this world from dragging me down,
Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down.
Experiencing this all from 5,00 miles away, we were physically removed from the turmoil, but with social media and updates from friends and family, we still felt connected to the moral collapse we were all witnessing. The Fall season is nature’s final exhale and seemed to create a paralleled symbolism with the political climate. The summer was sweltering and the air had grown stale, stagnant, and putrid. Winds of change blew through knocking off the final foliage to the forest floor. Those leaves that were burnt a fire red with the slicing rays were now decomposing into nutrients for the next year’s growth. The water ways that were foggy and murky with extreme changes, settled into clear streams of the earth’s consciousness. With the grass going dormant and trees being reduced to skeletons of sticks, the world is unable to hide from itself. We are left to sit and reflect with who we have become over a Winter frozen in introspection. We are approaching the time when we all have to look deep inside ourselves to discover and find the ability to work together for the common good.
As we biked and hiked our way through our first Autumn in Korea, I was reminded that in order to have a Spring that blossoms new hope, it is necessary for the world to purge itself of the past. One exceptional weekend in mid-October, we joined a group of friends to escape into a different mindset. When I told a friend back home that I was going Glamping, he shot back, ‘I don’t want you to ever you say those words again!’ I laughed it off, ‘You’re right, I should have said that we are biking 40 miles to stay in a yurt.’ Our group consisted of 10 adults and two little ones, who were celebrating upcoming birthdays. There were two cars that transported the coolers filled with beverages and food for the weekend while the rest of us were powered by pedals.
Ashlee and I took a half day off from work so that we would be able to get our Korean Drivers Licenses and still leave before 3pm. The saddlebags were packed with our clothes for the weekend and some snacks for our ride. Being able to leave Seoul while the majority of folks were still working meant we the bike paths were clear. We rode down the Tancheon to where it flows into the Han River. The Tancheon is a sandy bottomed river that has numerous waterfowl, such as Herons and Egrets, that our perched on stilts in the river feeding on fish. Although the waterway is visually very appealing, depending on which way the wind is blowing, the Tancheon sometimes smells like an open septic system. On certain days, someone happening to pass gas may be met with an expression of appreciation and gratitude because they actually improved the quality of smell. So, when we linked up with the Han River, not only do the views open up, but, the air is also cleared.
We crossed over to the North side of the Han and began our long journey East. Ashlee and I took turns riding in front to create a drag for the person in back and found a smooth rhythm as we cruised through parks and fields. After about 15 miles of riding, we began to leave the sounds of the city behind and entered into the countryside. We passed through corridors of trees that formed natural tunnels and climbed the path that was cut into the walls of the hills hanging over the river. With the sun beginning to slide behind the mountains, we entered into family owned farms and knew we were getting close to our destination. By the time we arrived at Stonehill Pension, the night had taken over and we were fairly spent from the ride which took us about 3.5 hours to cover 42 miles.
Stonehill Pension (http://naver.me/5EfULBiN) is an amazing spot located on a beautiful overlook sitting above Yangpyeong. Their yurts come with wood stoves, refrigerators, and voltage to power the electric blanket on our bed. For the two nights that we stayed there, the temperatures dipped close to freezing and so we stayed warm by the fire and BBQ pits. The days were warm and we soaked up the sun as we laid around in the grass and fell into relaxation bliss. On the second night, the gracious owners put on a communal bonfire accompanied with smores as people gathered around the flames. I was consumed by the dancing flicker that provided a quality episode of caveman television. The stars pecked holes through the blackened sky and I felt lost in their time lapse from light years away. Our bike ride home on the following day included several stops along the Han as we were in no rush to enter back into the hum of reality.