• Updated : 2019.5.27 월 16:15
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What Do We Live For?
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승인 2018.03.26  13:37:07
트위터 페이스북 미투데이 요즘 네이버 구글 msn

▲ Choi Seok-yong, Professor, Medical School, Dept. of Biomedical Science

    Years ago, something happened and my life had stalled. As a post-doctoral researcher, I was doing experiments in the laboratory day in, day out. All of a sudden, I could not lift a finger in the lab. I could not get to sleep at home. It was like “I couldn’t even read books, let alone write,” stated in a suicide note by the late president Roh Moo-hyun. I struggled for a couple of months to get out of this situation where I was constantly stalling, but to no avail. I sat at a computer and kept typing in ‘hope’ in a Google search window day in, day out. I walked mindlessly in the park for hours. I did not feel like me. I felt like I was a robot stuck inside of my body.
    Amid the struggle, I came across a news article regarding a book entitled “The purpose driven life” by Rick Warren, a Christian pastor. Although I had never read the book, the title hit me very hard. Later on, I learned that the book was all about Christianism. Although I was not a religious man, the title got me. I suddenly realized that my life had stalled because I was lost in my life. I was disoriented. A question then came into my mind, ‘What do I live for?’
    I desperately began to search for the “purpose” of my life. Was it to change the world, just as the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs told John Sculley to recruit him to Apple, "Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?" Was it to become a Nobel laureate? Neither of them convinced me. How about helping people around me, either big or small? How about knowing that this world would be better off with me? How about knowing that my existence would make a positive difference in the world, as tiny as it might be? I finally found the purpose of my life. From that moment, my life moved on. I was able to resume doing experiments in the lab and I was able to get to sleep at home.
    Several years later, while reading a book written by the late professor Shin Young-bok, a sentence struck me hard: “There is no creature that does not study. Even snails study. Last summer, snails must have studied the world and themselves in order to endure the harsh rainstorm. Study is the reason why creatures live.” I gathered ‘study’ in this sentence did not mean just academic learning. Whatever job you have, or no job, you can study. If you learn something today that you did not know yesterday, that can be counted as ‘study.’ As such, I added the word ‘study’ to my purpose of life.
    Every morning I look into the mirror and ask myself, ‘how can I be of help to the people around me today and what did I study yesterday?’ As a professor, I try to help my students learn a subject and to help graduate students in my lab to succeed scientifically. As a man, when my family members, relatives and friends reach out to me for help, I aid them.
    When the editor-in-chief of Chonnam Tribune asked me for an essay, I was glad. I know how hard it is to have professors write an essay. I had been there. Just saying yes to her request must have lifted a huge burden off of her shoulders, which contributed to fulfilling the purpose of my life. On the outside, I was helping her. On the inside, though, she was helping me.
    So, what do YOU live for?

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