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Same Sky, Different World


One of the joys of spending time in Korea this past year was getting to know people like the barber I visited monthly. In sharing life stories, I was genuinely surprised by her fascination with my mindset as a dad.

She explained that in Korea, raising children is largely left to the mom, and that it's exceedingly rare to see dads be so involved with their children's lives. Korean culture is such that generally, dads are expected to be at work for most of the day, and will even eat dinner out many nights a week for work and to catch up with friends.

I learned of numerous family situations that confirmed this general setup, including the story of a 47-year old dentist who, facing burnout, decided to retire from his practice to get some rest to reflect on what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. I was stunned to learn that he left his wife and middle school-aged children in Seoul to move back to his hometown to live with his elderly mom, with the understanding that by sending his wife 2-3 thousand dollars a month for living expenses, he was fulfilling his duties as a father.

Dads like this dentist seem like genuinely good people, which tells me that the culture itself doesn't encourage dads to show more interest in their children's lives. Learning this reminded me of the idea that even though we're all living under the same sky, within our own minds, we can occupy vastly different worlds.

Sadly, culture and other circumstances can cause us to feel trapped in a life that doesn't feel right. In many situations, we feel there is no path to a healthier existence.

I carry the belief that there is always a path to liberate oneself from visible and invisible chains that seemingly have us stuck in a matrix we don't want to be in.

How do we find liberation?

1. Physical exercise - by regularly eviscerating recurrent worries that don't serve us, we make room to see everything with more clarity.

2. Avoid overeating, and when we do eat, choose foods that feel nourishing and bring us happiness - this also translates to a healthier mind that is more capable of making good choices.

3. Strive to experience things that are unfamiliar and are likely to lead to new insight and personal growth - this is a powerful way of experiencing different worlds while living under the same sky.

4. Deeply reflect on what's most important to us and how we want to be remembered by those we are closest to.

5. Perhaps the most powerful way of all: foster gratitude so deep and real that we experience goosebumps as actual physical chills of inspiration course through us.

No matter our culture and circumstances, within our own minds, we are always free to choose the world we inhabit - let's be ultra mindful of this as we enter a new year ahead.


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