gatsby & my past

by - 2/09/2017 07:00:00 pm


I haven't posted in a while (1 month, to be exact). I keep thinking of ways to write this post, and because of that, I can't think of writing any other post. But I always get stuck (I even got stuck on the title, funnily enough).

So I guess I should start with something I know well: Gatsby. The Great Gatsby says,

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

We bloggers often don't talk about the past. Present? Yeah—what I'm doing, what I did recently, my opinions on today. Future? Most definitely. Bucket lists, plans, goals.

It's a strange thing, because the present and the future are merely our moons, but the past is our point of orbit, our gravity. It's at the heart of every choice, and we are borne ceaselessly back into it.

I think, somehow, everything always comes back to the past. 

Of pasts, this was mine:
  • I was born in South Korea, left at the age of four, and adapted to Australia by the time I was eight. 
  • My parents didn't speak English—discounting school basics. My father worked a successful engineering job at Samsung, slowly collecting stocks—dishing out a dime and getting back a penny, year by year.
  • Wealth. Familiarity. Security. Then, for some time: poverty. Isolation. Insecurity. 

When people talk of immigrants seeking out a 'better life', it doesn't always mean better standards of living—at least not right away. In our family's case, we sought a 'broader life', poorer in the materialistic sense but richer in opportunity. In Australia.


Australia is a beautiful country, by the way. It's rustic enough for that sense of community, and urban enough to feel sustainable, like you could live a wholesome life there. There's freedom in seeing racial, socioeconomic, gender divides all melt away. Academia is more expansive, less monotonous. Schools aren't populated by honeybees or robots.

I'm here only because of the American Dream (which, for me, isn't necessarily in America), that infamous star on the horizon. Yeah, I know Nick Carraway and probably F. Scott. Fitzgerald don't believe in that green light. An illusion, and all that. Actually, all the people in my extra Literature class see it as unachievable, too. Foolish, even, to try.

But I think there's something to be valued in looking beyond what your eyes can see. My father told me once, “One day, if you manage to look over the wall, you’ll see that there are more, taller walls to climb.” 

In a way, his words—intended to be kind and optimistic—are a kind of poison. They'll haunt me at every decision. Now, I'll never be satisfied with anything mundane—or maybe just anything in general. I'll be crushed and disillusioned a thousand times, like in some continuous loop, always back to where it all began.

That's the thing about the past; it pushes you forward. And then it carries you back.

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16 comments

  1. I was on my Reading List and saw you posted this just 35 seconds ago - what a coincidence! So glad you're back, I have also been stuck with my blogging lately, but I've slowly been getting back into the rhythm. I love what you said about how us bloggers rarely talk about the past; it's so true.

    Australia does sound and look like such a beautiful country, I really want to visit soon.

    Loved this post!
    xxx - www.whatlexieloves.blogspot.com

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    1. That's such a coincidence! I wish I replied to your comment 35 seconds after you posted it - that would've been pretty funny. :') Are you planning to visit? One thing I think you'll like is how environmetally-friendly it is.Good air & lots of trees in every direction!

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  2. I love the way you write your posts! I wonder all kinds of things as I read this post. You couldn't have been more right about bloggers talking about the past or future- I think it just works since we are all people who need to reflect sometimes!

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    1. Thanks Vanessa! I totally agree with that sentiment. :)

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  3. Thanks so much for sharing this!
    Yes, we do tend to get stuck in the present/future, but you are so right! The past is so important and valuable- our own, and others.
    love love love!
    elissa // letters-to-jayna.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you for reading. :)
      I think so, too. I'm glad you agree!

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  4. Your writing is absolutely captivating. This was an amazing post and really insightful. Like Gatsby, I think my past is what pushes me. While I may never be able to reach out to the unachievable green light at least I'll get a nice mansion out of it. :) Awesome post. Cool blog.
    - Sar ☽
    http://blackpapermoon.com

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    1. Thank you very much. :) It means a lot to me.
      Haha - a nice mansion would be nice :') It's interesting how many things depend upon our past!

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  5. It's weird how we don't look back, isn't it? Blogging is always about the now and the future-- for what can the past hold expect for thumbtacks of where we've been. I relate to this so much because I'm a lot like you, someone who was born in another country and moved to somewhere more "Westernized," as others may say. There's just so much that it's easy to become disillusioned. Sometimes, I feel like I'm stuck in two cultures because there's the American part of me and then there's the Filipino part of me, each with their own sets of values they want to have carried out. Ah, but that's life, I guess.

    xoxo Morning

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    1. I'm glad you understand. I've heard many stories like ours (but unlike many of them I wouldn't describe my story as a 'struggle'). It is really easy to become disillusioned - and that's a good point. That's why I agree that it's worthwhile to reflect, and blogging is a great way to do that! :)

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  6. THIS. I love Gatsby and all it stands for.

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  7. This post definitely made me think :) The past...the now...the future. xD I just did a post on this...kind of. =) I've been thinking about this a lot lately too, and isn't it mind boggling? How fast the time flies? And how short life really is? I also never thought about what you said about how bloggers always write about the now, or the future. I HAVE LITERALLY NEVER NOTICED THAT. But it's so true!!

    *sigh* This life is beautiful though, and that's something I've been trying to remember <33

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    1. *scurries off to read your post*. It's really something to wrap our heads around. :') ME TOO. I can't remember the last time I heard a 'past' post...

      That is quite true. :) <3

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  8. this was so beautiful. I love the Great Gatsby so I really appreciated the parallel. I think the green light it real. I hope you find it.

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    1. I loved it too, and thank you so much! I believe in it somewhat as well and I wish you luck with your own green luck. :)

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