Regrets are like the burning process of charcoal, which is a colorful display of fiery brilliance before the charcoal dies out and becomes another form of carbon and ash. Everyone has regrets. After birth, everyone is born with the potential to fulfill his or her dream or dreams. Charcoal is created with carbon and ash, which is derived from animal and vegetation substances. People are fueled by their dreams and desires, but when a dream or desire is unfulfilled, it can easily become regret. I am no different.
Written by Powerz
Photography & Art Direction Ryan Yoon
Styling Megan Ahern
Hair Kiri Yoshiki using Oribe,
Makeup Junko Kioka @ Joe management,
Model Charlotte Nolting @ Wilhelmina New York.
Creative direction & production Artistic cube inc.
Casting Jorge Morales
As far as I can remember, the very first Christmas gift I asked my parents for was a microphone. I wanted a microphone even if it was a toy microphone. Ever since that moment, I subconsciously believed that I wanted to become an entertainer despite being painfully shy. My parents never bought me a microphone for Christmas and although I was disappointed, I didn’t openly complain too much. Instead, my mother had signed me up for dance and piano classes. I loved dancing and piano classes, but I was not obsessed with it. In dance, I took ballet and jazz classes, but my real interest was in tap dancing. In piano, I underwent around 15 years of classical training, but I really wanted to just play pop songs and perhaps write my own pop songs.
Unknown to me at the time, my uncle wanted to enter me into a beauty pageant on television with piano-playing as my special talent, but my grandma was against it since she once worked in the film industry and believed the industry was corrupted. Thinking back, I wish I could have entered the beauty contest, but change my talent to singing and dancing instead. It is a cliché thing to do, but I would have wanted a shot at it just to see what would have happened.
Since I never pursued an entertaining career as a child, I discovered that I also love writing fiction. Writing teachers always praised me and I loved entertaining my audience with my fictional or non-fictional stories. I was already watching a lot of television and having wild dreams so my inspiration was never depleted. I knew that I had an interest in writing, but I did not know how to use this talent as a sustainable career. Worst of all, as much as I loved writing, I have never completed a story as other activities took up my time. As a child, I thought I knew a lot about my culture and roots. I was really proud of my roots even though I am American. Up until my high school years, I primarily loved watching the dramas and listening to the music of my parent’s home country.
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After my parents broke up and divorced when I was 17 years old, I felt lost and subsequently rejected my culture and my identity. In fact, I attended a college far away where I could escape from my roots. I felt as if I was a new person. In those few years, I had forgotten lot of my culture and the language, skipping family events, but it never bothered me very much. As the years went by, I realized that losing my identity was a mistake and I wanted all my memories and experiences back. A huge part of me longed to go back to my childhood and keep in touch with my roots. My vocabulary of my root languages declined drastically and I felt horrified. The charcoal was glowing, but I found a way to trap it, cutting out the oxygen for which it needed to burn.
Many years later, the regrets did not go away, but only became stronger. Regret is a nagging feeling that will never disappear from my life. The only aspect I can change about regret is to think of ways in which I can lessen the regret and then taking action afterwards. I decided not to reject who I am and live my life to the fullest within the time limit that I have in this lifetime. Little by little, bits of my charcoal escaped entrapment and began burning with pure brilliance. I will never fulfill my childhood dream completely, but I can be happy for the fact that I tried to fulfill it in different ways as I continue aging.
Realistically, I am too old to start becoming a world-class entertainer, but I decided to entertain others in my own special way. I do not have to be an international superstar and I am okay with that. Last year, I choreographed my own dance to a popular television theme song for a school talent show where my husband and I reenacted the lyrics to the song that was sung in one of my root languages. All the praises from the audience members were enough to make me extremely happy.
If I had the chance to do it again, I would try to think of another creative way to display my talents such as acting out a scene or doing a presentation on my culture or a related culture. For almost two years, I joined a pop dancing class for fun. I quickly realized that I was not as nimble and flexible as I once was as a little girl since I never exercised regularly. I spent nine months of stretching regularly before I could begin touching my toes. I was truly feeing my age when I felt and heard my neck crack as I rotated it. Injuries also happened easily.
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I also joined flash mob street performances when I had the time, learning the dance moves on my own at home. I know that I am older than most dance participants, but I ignored that fact because there are so many things that I have not tried yet. As long as I am physically able to do it and if I have the time and dedication to do it, I will try it. As for my writing and cultural root regrets, I have somewhat combined my interests by launching various blogs about foreign languages, including my root languages and my husband’s root language as well as an entertainment review blog.
I felt that it was time for me to record all my knowledge and experiences digitally so that one day my children will be able to read it and experience it as well. I also did not want to forget what I learned. Having a blog also allowed me to spread my knowledge to a worldwide audience, inspiring readers to rediscover their roots and promoting my culture to those who are new to it. After taking several languages courses at various places, I attended a foreign language school run by volunteers on the weekends. I am also researching my culture and languages on the internet when I have spare time. I may not blog regularly, but I am glad that my blog is receiving page views every day. Knowing that people have an interest in my blogs makes me happy.
I would love to do more, but my time is limited. Eventually, my blog led me to even more writing activities and I began writing for other websites as well. The opportunities allowed me to discover more specifically who I am. I realized what I enjoyed doing and what I did not enjoy doing. Still, these opportunities allowed me to meet more people that I would not otherwise meet if I had never taken the first step to launch a blog. Whenever I am at a family gathering, I end up studying and paying attention to what my family is doing and saying. I want to note any special words that they use and I want to find out why we have certain customs and family traditions.
Even attending a weekend school gave me an outside perspective to how other people view our customs and traditions. For example, I did not know that certain customs and word phrases were used regionally. Even more amazing and perhaps disappointing is that our language is continuously changing. The words and the pronunciation that I use is not necessarily what today’s youth would use in their vocabulary. I also realized that no matter how well a person knows his or her own culture, that person cannot possibly know it all. People may not also agree with what I have to say, but I will try to keep an open mind as to the reason why they believe their perspective is correct.
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The charcoal continues to burn brightly as I continue relieving my regrets. I still have some regrets that I have not pursued yet. My priorities in life may change, but my basic desire to fulfill my dreams will remain with me for as long as I continue living. The only aspect I have to control is to establish how much time I want to spend on each of my regrets. I cannot spend every single moment towards writing, performing, going to school, working on special assignments, attending special events, or spending time with my family. There must be a period of time where I can relax and enjoy other activities so that I do not create additional regrets in the future. My friends always comment on how I always have an active life and I would not want it any other way. As long as I concentrate on my regrets from time to time, I am satisfied that I am living to my full potential, but I am also careful not to completely ignore my regrets.
As beautiful as it may seem, charcoal will not burn forever. Animal and vegetation substances depletes over time as it is burnt away, leaving charcoal in carbon and ash once again. Just like everyone else, I will eventually take my last breath and leave this world one day. The end destination is the same whether or not I pursue my regrets. Having unfulfilled regrets can continually destroy a person to the point where live can be devoid of meaning. Ignoring regrets only makes a person feel worse. On the other hand, everyone has the power to figure out a way to relieve regret, even if it is just a little bit. I may not be able to bring back the dead or do the impossible, but I will figure out a way to do it in other ways. The world is based on perspective. Although pursuing regret is not mandatory, it ultimately depends on the person whether or not his or her charcoal glows or burns brilliantly. People may believe that charcoal is dirty and is an unwanted solid, but if they knew how to make the charcoal burn brightly and vibrantly, they can possibly experience how beautiful life can be when it is burning in their lives.