Writer Gong Sang-kyun finds a pink teacup at a small hermitage that he comes across after passing a bamboo forest behind Hwaeomsa Temple in Gurye, South Jeolla Province. It is a gift given by a Buddhist devotee who hopes an elderly monk, who would spend his younger days practicing Buddhist asceticism, to fill himself with youthful energy. With the pink teacup sitting still in the owner’s absence, red plum blossoms stay in full bloom around the hermitage. “Just a peek out the window shows the color of pinkness smearing everywhere. With the pinkish teacup added to the scene, it makes for a warm-felt punishment to feel my age while my soul gets freshened up with youth,” writes the author. The phrase leaves me in awe of its significance.
Vast sceneries and aesthetic exquisiteness always bring a tear to my eyes, making me realize the limits that have held me back get loose. Once you look right at what confines who you are, you come to the realization that the limits have so far shaped who you are.
Getting older, you find it clearer that your body weakens day after day. The more your physical and mental stamina gets drained, the freer you get of a bunch of desires that have chipped away at you. Aging comes down to the freedom that gets you out of nervousness and obsession. The boundaries of your capabilities define a place to live in. You enter the moments of enjoying rest and inner peace. It is the moment when you learn a hard-earned lesson after withering tough and harsh younger days. You stay relaxed and appreciate the limits that have shaped your inner self. The feeling of being troubled or punished may come with the moment the gap is growing between your biological and psychological age or you feel your age while your soul gets full of youthfulness and vigor. However, as the author puts it, it is a warm-felt punishment and I consider it a faithful tribute to his life. Obviously, the inspirational quote is an exclamatory expression that is only allowed to those who have the internal power to love themselves and show generosity toward people around them in the peace of self-satisfaction. The author may liken himself to the elderly monk who is away.