The Mountain May Be High
On a trip to Washington, I went to see the Korean Gallery at the National Museum of Natural History. An old Korean poem from the past caught my attention. It reminded me of K.
the mountain may be high,
but it is still below heaven.
climb and climb again;
everyone can reach the summit.
only the man who never tried
insists the mountain is high.
K. was born blind. He could have easily become society’s protégé and be assured of kindness and a home. He didn’t like the idea, though. It would be living like a bird in a cage. He longed for independence. He wanted his own apartment and a job in a downtown office. He knew it wouldn’t be easy, but he kept on trying. In the end, his perseverance paid off. He realized his dream.
He’s presently employed as a data entry operator in the accounting department. Since he started, he’s been a model employee. he gets the job done. He’s very dedicated. I remember the day when all the lights went out on the floor. Everybody stopped working except K. You could hear him pounding on his keyboard oblivious to all the commotions.
I think he has totally blended with the rest of us. He behaves and acts as one of the guys. On Monday mornings, he reports to his desk like a tired old man about to expire any minute. At 5:00 o’clock on Fridays, he rushes out to the exit door like a man possessed.
He’s got a great sense of humor.
“What’s your favorite color?” I teased him one day.
“You know, brother, it doesn’t really matter,” he answered matter-of-factly. “I won’t know the difference.”
On another occasion, I was on the elevator alone waiting for the door to close when K. barged in. I kept still so he wouldn’t notice me. On the way to the third floor, he farted.
“What’s that noise?” I blurted.
“Oh, brother, I’m so sorry,” he apologized. “I didn’t see you.”
That’s what I like about K. Even when the joke’s on him, he handles it very well.
When he wrote it centuries ago, the author of the above poem must be thinking of folks like K. It doesn’t really matter how high the mountain you aspire to climb is. In the end, the only thing that matters is you.