In my memory, my father has always been my father. I have not considered him as any other being but my father. He was always my father in every single pictures of him I had in my mind. In some pictures, he is standing imposingly in his black suits with a suitcase and a fancy golden watch is shining on his wrist. In others, he is sitting on a squeaky chair wearing a lousy sweater and old denim overalls with sawdust all over his body. No matter how he looked, he was no more than my father. His daughter was too young to get curious about the story that changed his clothes. I am now 21 years old and wanted to know the entire story of the time that he suddenly resigned from the company and moved alone to other place leaving his own family.
My father and I were driving through the downtown, Seoul. He came to Seoul nearly every other day because of his work. We were passing through a huge intersection in Jong-ro when I asked my father to answer a few questions. My father used to work for a well-known company. He did so well that he was promoted to the position of section head in 4 years which was about 4 years shorter than average. He was one of the most promising employees in the company until he decided to quit. I asked what made him quit the job that most people would admire. He answered as he sometimes gazed at the lights leaked out from a number of windows in tall buildings standing one after another along the road. "As I got promoted, I had to make more and more lies. I was too naive to face the reality that what business leaders mostly do is deceive people. I couldn't bare it. I got paid a great deal for making some bullshits up until late night every day. You know just, one day, realized I just simply cannot keep doing this anymore. Once I thought about quitting the job, it did not get out of my head. What else could I do? I just quit."
He continued to say that he freed his life from something that he did not want to do, but the cost was huge. All of a sudden, family income cut in half. Fortunately, my mother had been working as a public school's teacher, so we did not have to go out onto the streets. But that did not ease my father's feeling guilty. "What did mom say?" I asked. The car stopped by another red light on. He took his right hand off the handle and pat on my head. "Your mom is the best woman in the world. On the day that I told her that I quit the job, she said to me 'You do whatever you do and I will support, but at least be responsible. You are a father of one child.' What an amazing woman it is! Thanks to your mom, I was able to purse what I really wanted to do." A number of passengers were walking across over the front window. At some point, passengers disappeared and green light came on. "Then, what did you want to do?" I asked. He answered as he stepped on the accelerator, "I wanted to be a carpenter."
One of his old friends worked as a carpenter in Pa-ju, and he went there to help and learn a carpenter's work. "Why carpenter, dad?" I asked. "I don't know. Maybe I wanted to make something real," he answered. He worked there as an assistant of his friend learning carpenting for more than 4 years. During that time, I saw him about twice a month. I was very young. It was even before I went to elementary school. Whenever I went to his workplace, father gave me a piece of a wooden board. I used to spend time drawing something on that board. My father and his friend called that piece of a wooden board kirib-pashi, and I liked how the word was pronounced. It probably was some kind of carpenters' words originated from Japanese. I really loved so-called kirib-pashi, but as my father left Pa-ju I had to say good bye to all of those kirib-pashies.
He left Pa-ju, and started to study about lighting design. "Why did you suddenly stop working there and decided to study?" I asked. "When you follow what you want, the doors keep opening. Working as a carpenter, I met a lot of people working in construction and actually worked in many construction sites. And I got fascinated by the lighting part of construction and it inspired me a lot. I started to get interested in lighting design. And all of a sudden I felt a great, desperate need of studying. For my whole life, I had never felt such a sparkling desire to study. Someday, you will also feel that need, that strong need of studying if you let yourself follow what you really want to do." He studied for another many years from lighting, electronics to how to do CAD, all by himself. "I remembered that period as the most dazzling moment of my life, and it was possible because of your mom's full support," he said. "I owe your mom a big time. I repay her for the rest of my life.
As he studied, he met people with the same interest and started a small lighting design company. Now he is the CEO of that sound company. "What is the point of working as a carpenter for more than 4 years?" I asked. "Now, because of that four years, I am a designer who also knows how the things are going on the sites. That makes me very competitive! Above all, I would have not discovered my interest and talent in construction and lighting design if I did not quit the former job and decided to work with woods! Even the years of working in a big company helps me now manage my own company!" He answered with a big grin on his face. He said he has met hundreds of people and has done hundreds of tasks to reach today's father. And whenever he was challenged by new things, he did not get scared. He thought them as another door which would lead him to see another aspect of himself.
"That gate has a great lighting." He took a picture of some building's gate with his phone, waiting for another red light to turn into the green light. "So, do you enjoy what you are doing now?" I asked as I saw the pictures he took right before. "I love my job. Because of it I can now be driving with my daughter in Seoul. How couldn't I love my job?" After listening to his delightful voice, I asked the last question. "What do you think is the best choice you've ever made in your life?" He kept silent for a while and answered. "Quitting the company. Oh, no. Scratch that. Marrying your mom. You must tell this to your mom."