While watching the Korean film Night and Day, my life unfolded as a rosebud in the autumn sun. At age 53, the petals are easier to pull apart and the heart opens for reflection. Those who travel like Night and Day’s central character (Sung-nam Kim) do not purposely seek the soul’s appeasement simply by experience. Rather, we are trying to find something. We drift from day to day, hanging out and meeting others, pretending to know each other—but really don’t, only to become part of a larger story.
Unquestionably, Night and Day searches for love. In practice, I have more things than most will ever have. Yet, when I look upon a poor man walking through door of his home after a hard day’s work, I realize I have nothing. Like me, the movie’s characters lack the inherent ability to plug into a greater source of love that others who surround them seemingly tap each and every day. Feeling limited, unfulfilled, and unable to move beyond the measure of soft covers during a cool night.
Unlike that poor man rich in love, the burning question in mind was not that they didn’t love; they just aren’t sure what real love is. Thus, there’s an eerie feeling in Night and Day similar to that of my own life—that after the trip, many whom I’ve just encountered become amazingly disposable and replaceable – lost in-between fleeting moments of time. Like so many, we too continually struggle to find real meaning in everyday life.
Looking closely at the movie’s theme, all of us will experience ‘drifting at sea.’ During times of great loneliness, I felt an inexplicable heaviness inside my chest and long for the love of my life. While short, I longed for something greater, something more important than just me. To feel purpose, to feel heart and the warmth of agape love. Reflecting upon those days, the work of my hands was somehow intrinsically connected to another’s heart. Just like film’s protagonist, Sung-nam Kim, I fondly empathize with Scarlett Johansson’s character in Lost in Translation, where I too have gazed out the hotel window, contemplating, adding this, subtracting that, figuring it out, and questioning all.
The message of movies like Night and Day and Lost in Translation is that when we find our true passion, it comes from within. Where God or Buddha is for you; both are likely to be found only through the doorway to the inner soul. For me the true path and illumination came through a two-month love, which remains forever impossible to replicate. I felt alive, free; full of the life and love that God so wanted humans to experience.
Some will find Night and Day a comedic film, more of life’s deception and people running from responsibility. And that may be true. Still on a deeper level, watching characters personally struggle for connection and love in a foreign land only reinforces my own belief in the positive aspect of Buddhism’s compassion – that we must always be involved the moral care for others, just as the positive aspect of love does in Christianity.
So for all of us, find that which I cannot. Transcend life. Taste that which redefines the senses and dominates the mind and heart.