This poem by Korean poet, Jeong Hyeonjong <정현종> appears in his 2009 anthology, Island <섬>.
A Visitor <방문객>
To have a visitor
is indeed a matter of gravity.
brings with him his past
Brings with him his whole life.
Brings with him his heart
vulnerable as can be
as may have been cut asunder—a heart
whose written account
a wind may be able to read;
should my heart imitate such wind
this visit after all will be a hearty welcome.
~ as translated by Cho Young-Shil
Isn’t this life? The people we encounter come with their world – their experiences in the past and present, and hopes for the future. And their world may already bear traces of us.
We’d like to believe if only we could read them, then our experiences of each other would be richer, more impactful perhaps, and definitely less conflicting. Truly? To read someone is to rejoice in their happiness, and to hold their pain; it may include keeping quiet counsel, taking peaceful action, gently letting go or holding on. It may require us to trust and love more deeply, forgive easier or advocate stronger.
I have often wondered about the imprint I leave in another’s life. What experience of me and of us – its nature or essence – will they bring with them?
And how do you read and hold another’s vulnerable heart?
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