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Beautiful Sunset
Week #13
Across Time: The Letter (Part 3)

(Looking for Part 1 & 2?  Across Time: The Past & Across Time: The Future)

I was grateful to come back to an empty apartment. If Katie had been home, I would have had a lot of explaining to do. I felt guilty for having the thought but I just didn’t have the strength to explain what had happened or answer the hundred questions she is bound to ask if she saw me like this. Instead, I went to my room and locked the door so I can go through the contents of the envelop in peace.

It was heavy. It felt precious. Most likely because it’s the first tangible link I have to Oppa. But it was also scary and unsettling. Was it because it’s from many decades in the future? Or is it because, as my handwriting said, I was about to nudge the grandfather paradox? I desperately wanted the future, Oppa had shared. What if nudging would mess that up? But would the future me send this letter to present me if that was the case?

I chose to believe this is meant to happen and opened the envelop. There was a letter. And a notebook.  A thick notebook with a dark blue hard cover that seemed none the worse for the wear. The entire notebook was filled with writing. But it was in Hangul. I recognized the characters but I didn’t know the language.

What was the point in sending me this? Why would future me send me a book I can’t read?

I felt panic grip me in its icy fingers. A small voice in the back of my head was screaming that the timeline had somehow fractured and I wasn’t going to be able to reach the future, Oppa had shown. I picked up the letter with trembling hands. If it was written in Hangul again, I was done.

Hello Nat,

Stop stressing. I know you are freaked out about the notebook being in Hangul. There’s a reason. You have to learn the language if you are to have a future with Oppa. Once you are done reading this letter you will have a choice to make. What's written in the notebook is useful only for one path. If you choose the life with Oppa, then the first thing you have to do is learn the language, in about six months. Everything in that notebook is there to help only if you choose that path. If you choose the other, then you can pack the notebook back in the envelop and forget it along with learning another language.

I must’ve been old and senile at the time I wrote this letter if I thought there was ever a path other than Oppa that I would choose.

Don’t be disrespectful. I’m your elder, yes, but that doesn’t mean I’m senile. I still remember reading this letter and all the snarky remarks I was making. The thing is, Hangul is a complex language for a native English speaker to learn because the two languages have different roots so everything from pronunciation to sentence structures are different. It won’t quite work if you try to take shortcuts like Google translate either because colloquial terms don’t translate accurately. So, you’ll really have to commit to learning the language. It’s not impossible; just difficult. Remember that, every time you get frustrated. Also remember, without the language you won’t be able to be a real part of Oppa’s life. People around him will never accept you and more importantly, you will never be able to, as you called it, be his ‘business partner’ if you don’t learn the intricacies of the language and culture intimately.

Fine. I’ll learn the language. I can already speak a couple of other languages fluently and understand a few others a little. I can learn one more. Now, are you going to tell me anything immediately useful?

Right, you want immediately useful info. You are so impatient. You will need to practice patience. Oppa is the most patient person in the world, especially with his fans and with young children. You’d better learn how to at least develop enough control so your impatience doesn’t hinder him. He will have infinite patience with you but you have to rise to be his partner. Now, go back to practicing mindfulness and mediation techniques you looked up earlier in the year. They will come in handy in the coming years.

Fine. They were helpful to focus and I know a little extra patience wasn’t going to hurt me. As annoying as it is to hear all your weaknesses laid out like this, I can be the bigger person and accept it wasn’t bad advice.

Good. Now that we have the basic foundation out of the way let’s talk about a few details. Where to start… Right, if I remember correctly, you have 5 questions you want immediate answers to – when, where, why me, will I measure up and will I be happy. Yes, I remember standing in your shoes this day burning to ask those questions. Let me see what I can tell you.

Let’s start with ‘When’ first… You will meet him in about six months. That’s why you only have that much time to learn the language. He will keep his word from earlier today and will never let you go once you meet. So, six months Nat. It’s not a lot of time to master a complex language. The clock is ticking.

‘Where’ is a little more complicated… here’s all I’ll tell you. You will be on a business trip. You’ll have a packed week but one day he will stand in front of you and you will reach out thinking you are helping a stranger to find it is him. You will show him the way to where he was looking to go and from that point you will both walk the same path, side by side. Neither of you will ever let go. Now that you know, you will be prepared but he’ll be surprised. The only reason I’m telling you this is because you will need to be open for the lightening to strike. You can’t do your normal routine and block the world out. If you do, you and Oppa will be two ships passing in the night and you will never meet. So, from now on, look up when you are out in the world and don’t close yourself to everyone around you.

That was a frustrating answer. Why couldn’t I have written something like – you will meet Oppa in Paris on November 9th at the Louvre in front of Veronese’s painting, The Wedding Feast at Cana - Then I would know exactly when and where to wait. Apparently, the future me never learned to be much help.

I understand you want me to be explicit in my answers. But that would take away all the fun and excitement of living these moments Nat. Remember how you used to write that you want love to find you unaware and lift you up so you could feel your soul levitate? Well, if you were prepared for an exact time and place that would not happen, would it? So, enjoy the moment. It will be everything you hope for and so much more.

Guess my future self knows all my secrets. I don’t think I can argue with the logic here. Instead, I’ll choose to be grateful for whatever sneak peek I’m given.

    

So, moving on to the ‘Why me’. I don’t know I have a rational, logical answer to that one. The irrational and fantastic answer I’ve come to accept is, ‘because it is meant to be.’  You have to agree with me since you've already traveled across time to be there when he needed you the most. Twice. But here's the rest.

Given the life I’ve lived I can tell you with absolute certainty that we are soulmates and by some miracle, the universe decided to bless us with the opportunity to find each other in this life. When you meet Oppa you will know what I mean. Everything about him will be familiar and fantastic at the same time. I don’t mean ‘fantastic’ in the sense that it is great fun but in the sense that it is too good to be true, like something out of fantasy or dreams. The reason he is familiar is not just because you’ve already met him twice. He is familiar because there’s an imprint of him set in your mind that will surface as you come together. The reason he’s fantastic is not because he’s famous either but because he fits the shape that you are and fills the gaps in your shape perfectly. You will come to appreciate the rare blessing of finding your soulmate and every day, especially when the going gets tough, this knowledge will be enough to keep you fighting.

So, we have hard times coming? Is that what I mean by when the going gets tough?

Hard times for us will be different from what most people complain about. But the path forward is not a flat and straight road. There are quite a few mountains and valleys and blind corners coming our way. But as long as you trust each other they are just part of the adventure.

This is too cryptic. I don’t have any idea what is coming or how to face it. This feels like empty words. I could feel the frustration and worry gnawing at the edges of my mind.

Having faith is part of the journey, Nat. I know how much you like to be in control. So, learn the language and read the notebook. It has the details you are looking for that will guide you through the hardest challenges. It has who to trust, when to fight, when to fold, what path to take and when to gamble. It'll show you the hidden dominoes that will give you the edge. Let’s be honest with ourselves Nat. You know your intellect surpasses the average. Oppa will match you there. You are both disciplined and hard working. You both have a sense of purpose and responsibility. And before long, you will learn you have access to resources that the average person does not. So, it shouldn’t surprise you that we will reach for heights the average person doesn’t even dream of. The legacy we leave will be one of healing for the world. Remember that and use the notebook when the going gets tough. You will be fine. 

Still not a whole lot clearer. But in its own way it was comforting. I was ready to hear the answer to the next question.

I think I’ve already answered whether you will measure up. You will. But the real point you have to remember here is this. Oppa never compares you to anyone else in his life. You are the ideal he measures everyone else by all his life and no one else even comes close. That doesn’t mean he puts you on a pedestal either, Nat. Same as I said he fit your shape perfectly to fill all your gaps, you fit him perfectly to fill his. You are two puzzle pieces that create a cohesive and beautiful whole. So, the question of whether you measure up is one you have for yourself. It is a reflection of your own insecurities. Only you can set the measure of success for yourself for this question and hold yourself accountable to always rise to the best version of you. Yes, there will be days when you fall short, but as long as you don’t stop there you will be fine.

 

Again, only thing I can leave you with for this one is to remember, when you fall short it is you that will be judging your action and not Oppa. He is the most gentle of souls that will accept you with all your weaknesses and love you even when you don’t think you should be. So, don’t ever take your anger and frustration out on him. He doesn’t deserve that.

Moving on to your last big question, ‘Will I be happy?’ Simple answer is, Yes. You’ve always had this practice of reflecting your day before you close your eyes at night. I can tell you, every night you lay next to him, you will close your eyes happy. It won’t always be because of big things. Most nights it will be simply because you will count your blessings to have Oppa’s face be the last thing you see when you close your eyes. He will make you smile every day, despite how the day might have gone. As long as you can slip your hand in his, everything in the world will make sense. I don’t mean to suggest you will put him on a pedestal or expect him to wave a wand and make things alright magically. He's not our fairy godmother and that’s just not our temperament, Nat. You will work hard to realize the goals we set for ourselves. Like I said before, it won’t be a cakewalk. But Easy and Happy is not the same thing. You know that. So, yes you will be happy. You will be happy to have a purpose in life and you will be happy because you will have the rare privilege to walk this earth next to your soulmate.

I couldn’t help the tears gathering in my eyes. My life sounded better than a fairytale. It was painful to accept that it won’t begin for another six months. That meant another six months of missing Oppa. Patience was never my virtue, after all.

Wallowing in your self-pity and impatience, you are forgetting to ask an important question, Nat.

That’s right, 'if our life is this much of a fairytale then why would I consider a different path even for a moment?' Here’s the answer. I’ve already made my choice and walked this path. That’s how I can tell you all these details. So, I’m partial to this choice. But I will also show you the other side of the coin.

Oppa is the face of a larger-than-life institution. You will become part of that if you choose this path. You will always be the woman behind the man and never be the face. The legacy you leave behind will be stronger for the collaboration between the two of you but the world will recognize you only in hindsight. Don’t get me wrong, Oppa will never minimize your part. It is the world that will ignore it. If you can't live with that, then don't choose this path. 

Second, there will always be prettier, younger, willing people that will throw themselves at Oppa. Your insecurities will be tested over and over. Oppa will never break your trust but this again, isn’t about him but about you and your ability to rise above your own insecurities.

Finally, the mountains you have to climb to reach the legacy we want to leave will pit you against powerful and corrupt people. You will have to use your wits everyday and never lose faith. It is not easy street by any stretch of the imagination. Oppa’s aspirations can only be matched by your intellect and commitment. You will have fun and you will be happy but you will work hard too. You need to expect this and be prepared before you step into this path.

Now you have to choose which path to take.  In this one life, I hope you do it all and find as much happiness as I did.

Before I wrap up, I want to tell you one last thing. I already told you the road forward isn't easy street. But today was the hardest day of your life Nat. Do you know why? Because the love of your life, your soulmate, passed away in your arms today. You will never feel another loss that will compare to it and you will treasure every moment with Oppa that much more because of it. Even though you don’t yet have the memories of living a full life with him, you intuitively know he is what gave meaning to every moment. He took away the exhaustion of living a mundane life and made every step you took on this earth worthwhile. So the sadness you felt today is in its own way a celebration of an extraordinary life. But don’t forget the miracle of it either. Very few people have the luxury to peacefully pass away in their soulmate’s arms. You do that in Oppa’s arms many decades in the future and thanks to the miracle of the time portal, Oppa got to do it today as well. Our blessings are extraordinary Nat. I hope you choose to embrace them and chase after all of it in this one life.

Always yours,

Nat

I put the letter down. I knew I would read and re-read it many more times. The choice didn’t seem like much of a choice right now.

   

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