I am very quickly growing to love Korea. The food is exquisite, the people are wonderful, and the city of Seoul is vibrant. There is a lot to love about the culture as well, and one thing that I am particularly fond of is the embracing of sustainability. Korea is not a throw-away culture, unlike, ahem, the land of my birth. Every bit of garbage is separated and recycled here. Food courts in shopping centers serve food on real plates with real cups and real eating utensils. When you order takeout, it is delivered on real china and then picked up later. There seems to be no end to the Korean people’s desire to not be wasteful.
This willingness to forego the convenience of disposable everything for the sake of the greater good is not surprising to me within the context of this culture. Quite the opposite of my homeland where individuality and personal freedoms reign, Korea is a nation that firmly believes that we’re all in it together. Everything is done for the good of the whole.
I’m not saying that the Korean way is better, but I kinda am. Surely a balance between the two opposite ends of the spectrum could be achieved, but in the meantime I’m enjoying being among people who truly understand the cost of things. Which brings me to my actual point and the title of this post – mending. Beyond simply mending things for the sake of sustainability or thrift, there are much deeper implications when we choose the opposite of throw-away. If you subscribe to the notion that everything is connected and that within everyone and everything exists all, then by taking the time to mend or fix an object we are also mending a part of ourselves, and in turn the world as a whole.
I’m not saying that sewing the hole in your shirt rather than getting a new one will bring about world peace, bit I kinda am. Not immediately will Israel and Palestine settle their differences, but the ripple effect over time… It could happen. The fact is, we have to ask ourselves what it says about us when we are so willing to throw away that which is no longer perfect or whole. How does that translate to the way we see ourselves and others? Inner peace, and by extension world peace, will never be achieved as long as we consider people – any people – disposable. We must believe that people and institutions that are broken and imperfect can be mended and made whole and useful again.
Our Yoga practice is invaluable in learning to do this. Being able to sit with that which is imperfect and fractured is a first step to real and lasting change. The very popular idea of reinvention is a slippery slope. To think that we can just dispose of who we are to create a newer better version! The fact is, we can constantly evolve into a newer perhaps better version of ourselves, not by throwing away any part of the Self, but by mending the parts of our Self that need healing. So we’re not reinventing, we’re reworking, recycling. As we do that very important work on ourselves, hopefully our perspective shifts and we begin to see everyone and everything else as worthy of our time and patience, as mendable.