Our Daily 7-Ups (3)
By Hyon O’Brien
This is my fourth year as a columnist for The Korea Times, and this is the third installment of ``Our Daily 7-Ups.” I guess I am continuing a tradition here.
For the purpose of review, here are the ``ups” I discussed in the first two articles: clean up, dress up, get up, listen up, loosen up, make up, open up, pay up, pick up, show up, shut up, speak up, tidy up and wake up. Now I offer seven more.
Build up: a Chinese proverb says, ``Only when all contribute their firewood can they build up a strong fire.” We can never build up the weak by tearing down the strong. We are better off building up the weak ones. Tearing down any one, any city, any country, can never strengthen the other people, other cities, other countries or other continents. Intentionally building up each individual, each city, each country, will contribute to make the others all the stronger. Am I in the habit of building up (encouraging) others? I hope so. Do I see only the faults of others and criticize the weak points and add negative elements? I hope not.
Dig up: C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), an English Baptist preacher, once said, ``Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of.” Digging up is an act of searching in order to find something of value. We will do well if we never stop digging up. In a way, each day should be a day of unearthing something new. Are we complacent about what we know? Have we stopped digging?
Follow up: one of the most delightful characteristics of reliable friends is their ability to follow up on things discussed. What a joy it is to receive the precise information I need from someone who listens to my enquiries and bothers to follow up and supply the necessary answers. The hallmark of the professional is to follow up diligently; lately I’ve been experiencing the opposite, unfortunately, from ``service” people. The sincerity involved in ``following up” reflects the character of a person.
Fix up: After we moved into our new apartment, our realtor, Ignacio, a kind man from Argentina, offered to take care of a number of minor items that needed fixing up. We live in an age that is quick to discard any item not functioning because it is cheaper to throw it away than to fix it up and prolong its life. Koreans haven’t succumbed fully to this disease ― I remember my joy at finding a Canon shop in Yongsan where I deposited my “out of order” camera and got it back all fixed up three days later. Alas, here in Miami I don’t have that option. We sorely need the mentality of fixing up broken but still usable items.
Look up: whenever I think of my late mother-in-law, the first image that comes to my mind is her opening a dictionary to look up the meaning and correct spelling of any new word she happened to come across. She was also the fastest New York Times crossword puzzle solver among her family members. In another sense of the phrase, these days we are delighted to get phone calls and e-mails from friends who are informing us they want to look us up when they are in Miami area. One thing on my ``to do” list for my life back in the States is to drive through all fifty States and look up our old friends.
Set up: again, I tell you that moving is a tough thing to do. For the past five months I have been consumed by relocation activities: searching for an apartment, moving, unpacking, buying furniture, and setting up our new home. We are finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Who knew that setting up a new place in a new city could be this cumbersome?
Take up: I’d like to take up a new language. In Miami, effectively the capital of Latin America, more than half of the population was born outside of United States and more than 70 percent speak a second language. I want to enjoy fully all the Spanish-speaking neighbors, shopkeepers, workers and restaurant staff that surround us everywhere. It will take up much time but will be worthwhile.
I end with a quote from Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), an Indian spiritual leader, which speaks to me: ``Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life ― think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea. And just leave every other idea alone.” Good advice for hedgehogs, if not necessarily for foxes.
Hyon O'Brien is a former reference librarian now living in the United States. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.