I had an epiphany of sorts this morning while stretching after riding my Peloton.
It's strange, because thing about it is new. I didn't have a great new idea, but it feels like I did. That's probably a great way to look at Altered Plans. The more I think about my life and work, the more I'm finding God and faith.
But this isn't really a post about God. I don't think. Maybe it is.
In my moment of clarity, I realized that my life has been lived intentionally, deliberately, and purposefully. At least since 2010. Whenever I feel disconnect from purpose, I feel my life is without meaning, and there is no point of living.
It's these dramatic shifts that fascinate me.
I had a long conversation with my dad a few weeks back.
Like, 9 hours long.
And we talked, argued, and debated everything under the sun. It was fantastic. My mom thought we were fighting, but for me, having passionate and spirited debate is what more conversations should be like. I think we should argue more. I think we should listen more.
Having "fights" with an open mind helps us open our minds. It helps us understand who we are and what we believe in. Without opposing points of view, you don't learn anything about what you believe because you cannot test it. When faith isn't tested, it can't be very strong.
One of the few moments I actually recall from that lengthy conversation, was this idea that I've been obsessed with trying to figure out how to be happy. The process of trying to figure out what will make me happy, and how to become happy, has been sort of a futile pursuit.
At least I thought it was, because my outcomes never matched my expectations.
You see, I was looking at happiness all wrong.
To most people, happiness is something outward that affects inward emotions and feelings. It's something you look for, and when you find it, it transforms you. This is completely wrong.
Happiness is derived from within.
It's something that you can produce and replicate. It's a feeling that can be achieved without anything "happening", and can be obtained during the middle of a global pandemic while being unemployed.
Happiness is a choice.
It's something you must decide to work towards. Now that's a strange thought. Also counterintuitive. But you must work on yourself in order to become happy. You must do this work daily.
My epiphany wasn't in learning that happiness was a choice. I obtained clarity in an average moment, during practice. My purpose, while somewhat defined, became truly apparent while I was doing work to improve my mental and physical health.
My purpose is hidden in the brand I created, The House of Han. As an artist, I often hid behind a pseudonym. I didn't want the work to be about me. Mike Han. I've never wanted to name a restaurant concept with my name. But in the summer of 2020 when I founded this art company, I decided to create in a way that would honor my family name.
Being proud of being Korean is new to me, and it's still something I'm working on, because I can't even speak the language. I've always struggled with identity, because I'm not perceived as American and was not accepted in Korea because I wasn't Korean.
I felt like a fraud even claiming my own last name.
So accepting that I'm Korean-American is the first part of the brand. The second is the word "house". I'm building The House of Han as a vehicle for me to be my truest self. I've never really had a home. I've moved a kajillion times, and as an adult I've never really "moved in" to a place. I've lived out of a suitcase for pretty much my whole adult life.
I worked at world famous restaurant Zuma in Miami in 2018.
Some guests would pull up to our patio on their yachts.
I lived in downtown Miami, in a fancy place that's more than 2x what I'm paying now for rent. This was the view from my balcony.
This was part of the pool area.
This is how I lived.
The air mattress killed my back, so after a short while I began just sleeping on the floor. I slept on the floor with no furniture (accept 2 bar stools) in my apartment for a whole year.
You can't see the kitchen, but it was piles of take out boxes, styrofoam, and plastic bags. It was littered with beer cans and beer bottles.
When I posted the image of my Detroit apt / solo show (the lead image in this post) on my instagram, a few people commented about how nice my place was. It wasn't an accident. I decided this year to take care of myself. To create a home.
The chair is the only fancy thing I own. And it was a gift. The table is made from a salvaged marble counter that was on the curb of a Detroit art gallery, and a copper frame found in a different abandoned building 2 years later.
The couch has a big defect covered up by a pillow, so I ended up getting it for free. And the book case is from the Ikea As-Is used section of the store.
I've created a home and art show very intentionally, with many found/used objects. No, this isn't the fanciest apt I've ever lived in, but it's the first time I've felt at home living on my own.
The ah ha moment comes from the combination of feeling at home, feeling happy, and thinking about what it took to create those feelings. I know very clear now that my purpose is to build The House of Han as a way to help people become happy by: working to improve mental health which will improve their physical health, and to help people transform place into home.
Home is a big part of happiness. Being comfortable in your own skin, in your head, and in your thoughts is the first and most important step of the process. Then taking care of your body so you can do the things your mind wants it to do. Then make the environment a space that improves your well being on a daily basis.
That's The House of Han, and the work I'm meant to do.
My mother studied interior design at U of M, and my dad used to work for Herman Miller and Knoll. I always thought I was this weird anomaly in my family, but I can see very clearly now that I am 50% my mother and 50% my father.
Altered Plans was an act of courage. It's presenting artwork in an unconventional way, but one out of necessity. The results of my actions are showing me a clear path that I was unable to see, because I was too busy trying to live intentionally. Purpose was revealed by doing, not planning.
Faith, then, is an act of doing. It's an act of courage. It's not passive hope and wishful thinking. It's about praying away things that you don't like.
Observing the natural world makes it impossible for me to fathom that life wasn't designed. And just to be clear, evolution is real. And evolution isn't proof that creation isn't real. Think about a Rube Goldberg machine. If you watch the first 10 seconds of it, could you be able to predict what would happen at the end? No. That would be impossible.
I like to look at creation like that. Where for God, life is an incredibly simple thing. For us, it looks incredibly complicated, and we're only able to see a fraction of a fraction of what exists.
I knew this post would turn into a God post. Whatever.
I'm seeing now that when you do the scary work you were meant to do, a path unfolds that's perfect. Perfect doesn't mean painless and Perfect doesn't mean everything you want will come true.
What I'm saying is, when you practice faith (working in your purpose) you put one foot in front of the other, and when you look down, you see the terrifying depths of the ocean, but you find that after a few steps, you're walking on water.
I still have a problem with Christianity, but I'm feeling quite tangibly from my unsensational daily living, that God is real.