The sum of all what ifs

Two things seem to define life as we know it. Those that we do and all the what ifs that happen in between.

A South Korean child became a what if in constant replay in my head. I met him on a beautiful spring afternoon while sightseeing in Mungyeongsaejae Provincial Park, at the less crowded side of the street across the entrance to the KBS drama studio.

I remember sitting on some kind of stone outcroppings with my two friends. It was a surprisingly quiet space, only a few meters away from the hub of people drawn to two pottery mascots promoting the already popular Mungyeong Traditional Chasabal (Tea Bowl) Festival. Right across from where we were sitting was the road leading to the KBS drama studio where droves of people were heading.

Tall, lush trees and mountains enveloped the park in a proud, protective embrace. Like parents watching over its children dazzling people with their breathtaking qualities.

The child came toddling eagerly towards me from the right side of the road. He looked like he has recently learned to walk and happily showing off. I wanted to pick him up and play with him like I love to do with kids I like. But I was in an unfamiliar place and I didn’t know if it was okay for me to do that. He kept coming back to me while I continue to hold back. And as I held back, the moment passed.

There are probably several stories like that in everyone’s past. Each different yet memorable for the missed opportunities they represent. What if I gave in to the impulse and played with him? What if I spent more time getting to know him? What if I actually hugged and kissed him? Maybe then I’d remember more of him and that moment.

I guess we are capable of living two lives in every lifetime. The life that we allow ourselves to live fully and the one that is but the sum of all the what ifs.


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