This song is about wrestling with identity, trying to give myself space to process, and how, as a Korean adoptee, I still can’t get my head and my heart to connect.
I got in a lot of trouble in high school for checking in with girls that I thought “looked tired.” One of my friends, in particular, would always shoot back “WHY KJ? IS IT BECAUSE I’M NOT WEARING MAKEUP?” I’ve since learned that a better phrase to check in on someone is to ask, “Hey, how are you doing? You look weary.”
Weary is something you feel in your bones, your mind, your heart, and your soul. It’s affects your posture, your life choices, and it often masks a deeper thing. Maybe you’re weary because you’ve just run your first marathon a few days ago and you’re still recovering. Maybe you’re weary because life is a lot and you still have to get out of bed and tend to your responsibilities.
For me, when I wrote this song, I was (and still am) weary. As I navigate the world post-apocalypse, I keep having to update my idea of who I am in my brain. Plus, as I’ve mentioned a number of times in my podcast, I’m a sad boi. That’s the main idea of Verse 1: when I feel depressed, everything blends together. Time becomes meaningless (even though there are clear markers that time continues to progress) and by the time I feel settled in the rhythm of the day/moment, things will change. sigh.
Verse 1: A new day dawns, it feels the same One more pirouette completed And I’m sure that things will change Just in time for me to feel it PreChorus: Moments come and moments go Life goes on and I feel oh so old Chorus: I’m growing weary of the changing times I’m growing tired of staying in the moment And if I try to give myself some time Then my heart won’t tell me how it’s going Verse 2: Even rhythms for a time Simple melodies completed When I finally learn my lines The curtain’s drawn, everyone’s leaving
An Ever-Updating Identity
2020 was the moment of my apocalypse. 2021 was the moment of my awakening. Here’s a brief timeline of events:
- March 2020 the world locks down and Trump tweets about the “Chinese virus.”
- I wrestle with how to ask my wife to do grocery shopping because I’m afraid of being harassed as an Asian wearing a mask, even though at this point we are under the assumption that covid is potentially deadly to all and without a curable.
- George Floyd is murdered May 25, 2020.
- Stop AAPI Hate receives 3800 reports of Anti-Asian hate crimes from March 2020 to Feb 2021
- Vicha Ratanapakdee is killed January 28, 2021.
- To this day, I can’t read his name without choking up.
- March 26, 2021, eight are killed in an Atlanta spa shooting. Six are Asian women.
- Hate crimes against Asians rise 339% in 2021
In that time, I went from being a “Nothing American” to an Asian American in a hurry. It felt like my survival depended on it. I became incredibly disillusioned with Christianity and the church. I read and listened to a lot of voices I hadn’t intentionally looked for in the past—Latinx, queer, Black, Asian, adoptee, Muslim, Disabled, Indigenious and Sikh voices in particular.
With each voice and story, I learned more about what it meant to be marginalized in America, how to survive as a marginalized person, and how important love and joy within these spaces are.
It was necessary; it was exhausting.
That’s the thrust of Verse 2: I thought my life was simple and understandable (“even rhythms,” “simple melodies”). When I learned it wasn’t, I studied and learned and tried to act the part of an Asian/Disabled/BIPOC/Post-Evangelical American. By the time I finally showed up, ready with the words to say, this new and novel experience (for me) was old hat for everyone else.
From Hypocrite Imposter to Acceptance and Self-Love
In March of 2021, after news of the murder in Atlanta broke, Nathan, Patrick and I didn’t have any plans to do a reaction episode. It wasn’t until one of my wife’s friends asked if we were releasing one that we decided to do one, and I think that subtly and significantly changed the direction of the show.
For me, that began yet another journey of moving from feeling like an imposter and hypocrite in Asian/BIPOC American circles to fully accepting myself as part of that community and loving myself enough to embrace my story and move forward. I have a lot of gratitude to a group of BIPOC young professionals I got connected with in the closing days of my time in Springfield. The pure exposure-therapy of it helped me move through feeling like a hypocrite and into that acceptance.
A Closing Thought: The Bridge
It took me a long time to feel okay with how the Bridge goes. There aren’t words—it’s just an instrumental. The key changes, the mood shifts, and I get to spread my legs a bit as a soloist. It feels like such a large break from the rest of the song, like it comes out of nowhere.
But that’s how life goes. It takes you down a left turn and somehow, you’ve still gotta roll with it. You have to learn to gracefully return back to the core of who you are, and to allow yourself to have changed because of it.
So I hope you enjoy this song, the story behind it, and the moment that comes out of nowhere. Musically, it has become a left turn I love to visit time and time again. As a thing Life does, I’d like a break, please.