Over the last three weeks I traveled to South Korea just in the time for the publication of my book Whenever You're Ready, which I translated into Korean and entitled 'Millions of Dreams' (백만 번의 상상). It was published by Dasan Books Inc., one of the three major publishing companies in Korea. When I think about my millions of dreams, I have to admit that having my book published in Korea wasn't one of them. I must have been short of imagining! I felt that the reality surpassed me, offering something amazing that I couldn't even picture in my wildest dreams! When I first touched my book with my name on it as an author in the middle of my favorite bookstore in Korea, Kyobo, I was filled with a sense of awe and wonder, pinching myself whether it was real. In the first two weeks of publication the book even reached a No.3 bestseller in the success story category at one of the major bookstores in Korea, Aladin.
For the first time in 20 years I went back to Korea to perform as a pianist and an author in a unique form of a 'book concert' which was a talk about the wisdom of life intertwined with sharing music on the piano. It was a new attempt of the format in Korea, yet it felt like I had been doing it for years, fitting perfectly with what I could offer the world. Not only was I struck by the serious devotion to education in Korea, I was also humbled by the learners’ attitude of wanting to grow in everyone I met. I was genuinely impressed by the levels and depths of essays that people posted on their online blogs after reading my book. It felt as if they had enrolled in my book class and wrote those essays in the hope of earning an A+. Yet no. They did it to record their thoughts just for their personal growth.
My 67 years old mom is a sophomore at the Wondong Cyber University, majoring in traditional Korean instruments. Her fellow students in their early 20s asked mom why she was at the university again and what for. Mom said: "When my daughter's book was published in English a year ago. I really wanted to read the book. With my limited eyesight and insufficient level of English I read the book at a painfully slow pace with the help of a dictionary, relying on my husband's translation every night for months. I had no idea that this book would be published in Korean one day! After the book journey was over, I said to myself 'That is right. Why not? It is never too late to pursue what I like to do. Forget the age! Just go for the pure curiosity of learning. I will apply to a university again to study Korean music!'
I certainly can't give as much credit to my book for the inspiring journey that my mom is taking as she gives me. Nonetheless I receive a lot of positive feedback from people from all over the world about how my book inspired their lives. I feel that I may have written it, but I don’t own the experience of the book. I am also a receiver of the book as it is constantly evolving and has a life of its own.
Just like I did before calling Carnegie Hall, just like my mom writing a university application at 67, I hope that you’ll ask yourself the same question today with the very thing that hovers in your mind with curiosity.
To me, in that open space of unlimited possibilities fueled with daily hard work, true contentment has been delivered to my life’s doorstep when I least expected it.