What a wonderful world
By Hyon O'Brien
In 1968, the year I fell in love with my husband 42 years ago, we got to hear lots of music in Seoul tearooms. At that time there weren't that many places to go especially for two young people to meet. All tearooms played music and it was natural for us to hear some songs more often than others according to their popularity.
One of them was ``Happy Together.” It sort of became ``our” song. Another pop song that reminds us of our courtship time was the bubblegum hit from 1969 ``Sugar, Sugar.”These days I can access songs I want to hear by searching YouTube simply by typing the title of a song. The other night I was introduced to a Hawaiian singer, Israel (IZ) Kamakawiwo'ole, whose rendition of ``What a Wonderful World” was so amazing that I immediately uploaded his beautiful voice to my Facebook page.
I don't remember exactly when I first heard Louis Armstrong's ``What a Wonderful World,”but it immediately became one of my all-time favorites. What drew me to this particular song? Besides the tune which is sweet and inviting and comforting, the lyrics move me each time I hear them.
This song was written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss and recorded by Louis Armstrong (1901-1971). It was released in 1968 in the midst of the Civil Rights movement, and it seems that it was intended as an antidote for the racially and politically charged milieu of the United States. It urges people to look at the humanity that is our common denominator as human beings rather than the dividing elements such as the color of our skin. It portrays the good things of life and reminds us of the beauty around us. Green trees and red roses, blue skies and white clouds, pretty rainbows, happy people's faces, friends shaking hands, crying babies growing around us with the promise of a good future.
This song led me to ponder my own reasons for thinking that the world is wonderful. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)'s famous poem ``What Is Success?”mentions many of the essential things that make up the wonderfulness of life.
Laughter: life is wonderful when we can laugh much and often. I sometimes alarm people by laughing too loudly. I am not behaving like a lady and this embarrasses people. Oh well, what is the alternative? Being a prim and proper lady and losing all opportunities to express insuppressible joy? Never! OK, I will lower the volume of my laughter a bit.
Respect and affection: I thank God that there are many who make us feel respected and loved. Our own worth and existence beautifully validated and valued. How can we possibly go on without building each other up? We will make the world more wonderful if we practice a life maxim: love one another
Appreciation: There is nothing like receiving compliments and words of appreciation. I can relate to what Mark Twain said " I can live for two months on a good compliment." Words of praise are a great sustainer. We need to encourage one another with words thoughtfully phrased and uttered.
Endurance and forgiveness: Where can you be if God did not endow us with the strength to endure and the capacity to forgive? What a bitter world we would be weaving and imprisoning ourselves in if we didn't actively exercise these two gifts.
Beauty: I agree with John Keats (1795-1821), an English Romantic poet. Beauty is truth. Truth, beauty (Ode on a Grecian Urn). Life is wonderful when we can see, taste and experience beauty.
Goodness of people: The ultimate wonderfulness of life comes from witnessing the goodness of people - their loving kindness, charitable mind, humanistic support for those in need, their willingness to pick up the weak and the have-nots. I see hope spelled big when I am allowed a glimpse of the natural divinity in people. They do indeed make the world a better and more wonderful place to live in.
As an antidote to the serious shots above, I end this piece with a light joke making the rounds on the internet. I want you to chuckle over it. Isn't life wonderful?
At age 4, success is...not peeing in your pants.
At age 12, success is...having friends.
At age 16, success is...having a driver's license.
At age 20, success is...having sex.
At age 35, success is...having money.
At age 40, success is...finding meaning & purpose to life.
At age 45, success is...finding meaning & purpose to life.
At age 50, success is...having money.
At age 60, success is...having sex.
At age 70, success is...having a driver's license.
At age 75, success is...having friends.
At age 80, success is...not peeing in your pants.
Hyon O'Brien, a former reference librarian in the United States, has returned to Korea after 32 years of living abroad. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.