Yesterday, I hiked Suraksan, my 27th mountain in Seoul. Like an idiot, I miscalculated the time, and ended up speeding down the mountain to beat the sunset. The remaining 10% of my hike was pitch black, and because it was a rocky stream, I lost the trail, was close to sheer panic, and was even closer to concussions, sprains, and—I wince thinking about this—death.
I stumbled over dry leaves and through sharp branches. Thank goodness for GPS and the flashlight on my phone. But most of all, thank goodness it was Buddha’s birthday, because the temple at the end of my hike had these glowing paper lanterns, helping me find my way.
On the way down, I vividly remember passing by two ajusshi on separate occasions. They didn’t look like they cared about the time. I really hope they made it back.
I am extremely grateful for well-kept traditions, modern technology, and friends who would come over to give you ice cream and remind you to hike smarter. I have 10 more mountains to go, you know.
Happy birthday, Buddha. And many, many thanks.