I took the KTX train to Seoul and arrived at Hongik University station. My friend and I managed to get into the show fifteen minutes before the starting time. The gig was at an underground club: small, dark but jam-packed with people who are probably around my age but seemed to look years more mature than me. Tiptoeing with all my might to see the stage past all the heads towering over me, I was afraid that my being vertically challenged might prevent me from seeing Erlend Oye in flesh form rather than looking at his two-dimensional face from my cell phone background.
The Whitest Boy Alive finally came on stage and started playing their groovy, jazzy, electronic melodies. Everyone in the crowd seemed to amalgamate into a single body, swaying from side to side then hysterically bursting into a state of frenzy whenever the best part of the song comes up. As I drowned myself in the music along with the crowd, I felt my thoughts and worries, ranging from satisfying my fangirl needs to choosing the right path for my future, evaporate through my pores.
To others, going to this concert might appear as a waste of time or an inability to control every impulse I get. Perhaps their assumptions are not completely unreasonable, but this was not a mere whimsical desire. To me, music is much more than a shelter where I can take cover during hard times. When I listen to music or go to live gigs, a sense of temerity is triggered in my mind and heart. As long as I can listen to music, I know, am more than certain that I can get through whatever ordeal that will storm my way and might wear me down. It’s when I truly feel infinite, like anything is possible if I set my mind to it.
On the other hand, I also want to commit myself to and excel in industrial design. I mean, if I wasn’t passionate about it, I wouldn’t be writing this at 6 am after pulling yet another all-nighter endlessly drawing straight lines and circles. But to do this I need to keep that guiding light burning inside me by indulging in my music. Perhaps writing about this idea is clichéd, but everyone has faced or will face this at some point in their lives. Whether what you want to do is studying, going to concerts, dancing, making airplanes or watching football, trying to pursue multiple interests is an inevitable challenge.
So, how do we balance the scale? In fact, balancing may or may not be the best way to approach this problem at all, because if you do manage to equally apply yourself to each, you can only go so far as to touch the surface. On the other hand, immersing yourself into a single field could produce a high level of expertise but will force you to sacrifice other areas of interest. As you keep thinking in circles, you start to develop a very cynical and despairing perspective on reality, and that’s just committing mental suicide by tiny, tiny increments.
People always seem to expect some kind of grand epiphany at the end of the movie or the book they’ve been reading, and thus I’ve thought long and hard on how to provide a clear-cut solution to conclude my column with. But the truth is, epiphanies are overrated and they don’t happen very often in real life. Realistically speaking, I think that we’ll eventually have to decide which should have more weight in our lives, and learn to be satisfied with that decision. Until then, I’ll probably be at the next concert screaming and frantically jumping up and down to the music. And although my eyes might be half closed from sleep deprivation, at least I’ll still have that shimmer of hope that will never go out.