- 杜 막을 두 close; shut
- 門 문 문 door
- 不 아니 불 not
- 出 날 출 exit; come out; go out
I like the character 杜(두) because it is simple and natural. Afterall, how many things are more simple and natural than "a tree" and "earth"? However, I do understand why the Chinese would choose this character combination to mean "shut."
I mention the expression because I have been secluding myself recently. After my classes, I come straight home and lock myself in my apartment. For some reason, I would rather be with my books than with people.
I will be turning fifty soon, which means that I have been studying Korean for almost thirty years. My first "descent" Korean textbook was Myongdo Korean 1, given to me by a guy I knew in the navy who was nicknamed "Tex." That book was like the Rosetta stone to me because I finally got a logical explanation of the Korean language, something I did not get in the 32-week course I had recently completed at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. I loved that Myongdo book and carried it with me almost everywhere I went. With that book, I felt that it was only a matter of time before I would be speaking Korean like a Korean. Boy, was I naive.
After almost thirty years of studying Korean, I am only now beginnning to see a light at the end of the tunnel, but even that may be a mirage since I have seen similar lights in the past. Korean has been like a carrot dangling from a stick in in front of my nose, tempting me to keep trudging along on my path to master the language, but always staying just out of reach. Sometimes I feel like a Guinea pig in some alien experiment in an episode of the Twilight Zone.
I wonder how my life would be different if I had not gotten addicted to Korean? Would I have married one of the women I pushed aside in my pursuit of the language. Would I now have a house, a family, and a dog somewhere in the US? Would I enjoy more the company of friends and family?
It has been so long that I cannot remember what it feels like to live a day without feeling obligated to pick up a Korean book and study. Sometimes I do not know if I am in heaven or hell.