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Seoraksan

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For most of Lee’s life, existentialism was not necessarily his primary concern. As a thirteen year old boy in the middle of the turmoil that is adolescence, he had enough problems to deal with as his hormones began to bring about changes that he could have never imagined. Psychological and anatomical altercations baffled him, and fearing that he was alone in this troubling journey, he began to grow more self-conscious. He was affected by even the slightest gaze upon him, wondering what everyone thinks about him and how he should act in front of others.
It was amidst these distressing times that Lee went with his family to the mountain of Seoraksan, an impressive landmark in South Korea towering over 5,000 feet above sea level. As it was only a family outing that he was attending, he had no intention of having any philosophical revelations about anything, as he was too busy racing his cousins to the top, a rare moment in which he did not consider the opinions of others. But eventually, their physicality failed to keep up with the rising altitude and they stood, panting for air, as they waited for the rest of the group. Up until this point, Lee has not even noticed the height at which he stood, and as he looked around him he saw one of the most incredible images that would remain ingrained in his mind even to this day. What he found encompassing him in all directions was the wonders of nature; the plethora of trees advertising the coming of autumn with their decorative leaves, the jagged mountaintops standing proud and tall as they pierced the sky above, the flora of the mountain enveloping even the wooden structures laid down hundreds of years ago all came together into one entity as even the child observing it became a part of this wonderful creation. Naturally, Lee could not help but wonder about the intricate process of formation in which Mother Nature must have toiled over this astounding creation.
Lee extended his thought onto the countless natural marvels that occupied the world and how grandiose they all seemed, as part of an everlasting beauty that will continue to sanctify nature as a divine force, long after he has departed the world. The millions of years spent on the miracles of the Grand Canyon or the Uluru flashed before his very eyes in mere minutes, as his brain struggled to comprehend their sheer magnitude compared to the meager thirteen years of his life. Lee’s mind continued on to contemplate on an even greater entity, the universe. He could not wrap his head around how infinitely immense it is, and the fact that it was still growing and that we as mankind might never be able to reach the edges of the universe further served as a testament to the limits of his brainpower. Even the Earth, filled with its myriad of glorious creations and gigantic compared to a single human, pales in comparison with the true wonders of the universe.
With that thought Lee finally came to confront his own existence, and compared to the universe, and even the Earth, it seemed of infinitesimal significance. He pondered about how he made a difference in this world and how it would change if he ceased to exist the very next day. Disheartened with his own speculations, he thought of all the other people on the planet, and found that they had more or less the same fate. Like him, they would also cease to exist someday and many of them will disappear into the pages of history, with a few exceptions leaving a scratch on society. Depressing as this thought was, Lee contemplated on his self-consciousness and found that his anxiety was nothing but an unfounded ideal that he imposed on himself as he sought for the fundamental human condition of acceptance, which, he now realized, did not really matter in the end. But, then Lee went on to ask himself, “If so, does life even matter?” He felt that as death was the inevitable fate of the humankind, all of his deeds in this world would be pointless once he is dead. And so he had a wave of suicidal thoughts as he pondered if it would be better to end it sooner, sparing himself from the other troubles of life that were bound to haunt him sooner or later.
But, as Lee was pondering about this depressing subject, he finally saw the rest of the family catching up to him. Soon, he was within a hub of activity, with second-hand jokes and hearty laughs welcoming him back. And as he looked upon his family and those around him, Lee realized why he came to be here, why he is here, and why he will continue to be here for as long as he can manage.



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