Forever Young

by Grace Ko in , , ,

I meet with a ten-year-old girl each week. I have the honor of tutoring her and she and I go on adventures together, through the world of Children's Literature, discussing the characters, their emotions, and the happenings of their lives. We even get to write make-believe letters to some of these very characters and sometimes, we even dabble in the world of poetry. 

Confession: Sometimes, I pretend that I'm in a two-person book club with this ten-year-old friend of mine. 

At my first meeting with this friend, I asked her what her favorite book was. Though she named several, one of them stood out to me: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I jotted it down on my "To read" list. After getting my hands on it, I read it in a day. 

Filled with a deep sadness that I don't often associate with a children's book, it touched on the brokenness and fragility of life, but equally whisked me away in a state of nostalgia, bringing back memories of the past, childhood conjectures and reveries. The story is about Edward Tulane, a china rabbit and his journey with many owners. A rabbit who learns to love and be loved and to hope in love.

Reading this story, I dug up a memory from the dusty depths of my childhood. Sometime in elementary school (I was probably around the same age as my previously mentioned friend), I had had a stuffed animal dog - possibly a mix between a Black Lab and a Rottweiler. I believe it was a gift my brother had received, but somehow this dog became mine. She was my companion on a family trip to Maryland. Unfortunately, my absent-mindedness led me to leave this companion behind at the hotel.

When I came to this realization, I cried. I cried at the thought of having abandoned my "dog". I cried because I felt guilty. "I'm a horrible owner... How could I have forgotten about my dog?" My vivid imagination took me on a downward spiral, envisioning my dog's less-than-fortunate encounter with future owners, less-loving, some even abusive. 

My dad luckily came to my rescue. He dialed the number to the hotel we had stayed at, and requested they mail us my dog. I remember the relief that washed over me after our reunion. 

It pains me to think that I don't even remember what I had named this "dog" of mine, nor do I know where this dog is now. And it got me thinking... 

When had I stopped dreaming? What had come of my imagination? When did I become more consumed with others' expectations than valuing the core of who I am? 

For in every adult there dwells the child that was...
— John Connolly

But that fourth-grader is still there, somewhere inside of me. Her dreams, her hopes, her imagination, her innocence... they're still here, in the deepest chambers of my heart. 

When Y proposed to me (almost six years ago!), underneath the magnificent starry ceiling of the Main Concourse of Grand Central Terminal, he said one line I will always remember: "I want to grow old and young with you." I giggled as he nervously uttered these words, because it was a play-on-words (his name being Young). I secretly thought to myself, "How can you grow young?" and I chuckled mainly because I too was nervous. But little did twenty-four-year-old Grace realize what a profound statement this was. 

"It takes a very long time to become young." -Pablo Picasso

"It takes a very long time to become young." -Pablo Picasso

Progress, Not Perfection

by Grace Ko in

So I have always had a thing for handwriting, a lifelong fascination with the way letters are formed and documented on paper. My parents once told me that at their parent-teacher conference with my kindergarten teacher, she had told them how beautiful my handwriting was. However, she expressed concern that I was spending an inordinate amount of time forming and writing these said letters. I guess my penchant for perfectionism was apparent even at such a young age. 

In elementary school, I would arbitrarily decide on certain day, "Self, let's change your handwriting today". I would then obsess over the formation of any subsequent e's, a's, h's or c's. I would smile and be pleased when the letters were different enough, yet strangely familiar. 

In middle school, there was this classmate of mine. He was the artiste of the class. He wrote in all caps. I loved the modern look to his penmanship and I would admire it from afar. Until one day, I decided I would start writing in all caps as well. That was for a season. 

Fast forward and I have found myself on an exploration of calligraphy. 

It all started a few months ago. My co-worker asked me to make escort cards for his son's wedding. I took a drive to our local A.C. Moore to pick up a few simple supplies and since then, it's been quite a journey. 

It started with an affinity for handwriting but I've learned quite a number of things from calligraphy along the way.  

  • Calligraphy is often more like painting than writing.
  • It's okay to copy others. Everyone starts somewhere! Plus, Pablo Picasso once said, "Good artists copy. Great artists steal." 
  • Words are powerful. 
  • Sometimes, you have to just dive in. 

And one lesson that particularly resonates in my heart in this season:

  • It's about progress, not perfection.
Thank you,  Scarlet + Gold  for my first ever calligraphy workshop! 

Thank you, Scarlet + Gold for my first ever calligraphy workshop! 

A work-in-progress

A work-in-progress

A special shout-out to these talented ladies for always inspiring me: