Simple and unexpected, just the way I like it

“Some things happen for a reason, others just come with the season.” ~ Ana Claudia Antunes

One week ago I didn’t know Jeju green mandarin tea existed. As far as that goes, I didn’t know Jeju Island existed and I can’t say that I’d ever heard of a green mandarin fruit.

This week I do know these things and all of this knowledge—which sprouted from a gift from my daughter’s friend, who hails from South Korea—prompted me to try this tea and research Jeju Island. There’s something satisfying about following curiosity down a rabbit hole. Or more accurately, down the modern day rabbit hole of google.

For those who don’t like to be left hanging, Jeju Island is in the Korean Straight off the southern coast of South Korea. Jeju mandarins have been growing exclusively in the volcanic ash of this little island for centuries.

I love the gesture of being given this jar of tea that dates back to an ancient time and on another level, I appreciate the reminder that you never know what you might discover in our current time.

It seems like a simple thing but that’s alright; simple things are my favorite kind.

Along with simple messages, like a phrase I’ve been known to say to my kids: “Just show up.” I mean it in the context of making an appearance, giving something a chance, even if it’s a five minute appearance or a momentary chance.

My daughter’s friend stayed with us for a couple of days and I watched her experience our normalcy for the first time. A tourist in our country, a tourist seeing a typical Kansas sunflower field for the first time and a tourist staying in our little home.

After this, some words I recently read from a writer named Maggie Cain made perfect sense:

“Tourists will spend most of their day taking pictures, walking, stopping, and pointing… Soaking up every bit of adventure in each day…getting lost and turned around countless times but still taking pictures of even the moments not on the itinerary because these moments are just as special…Due to the time restraint, things are put into perspective and they make a conscious effort to soak up as much as they can…We don’t have to live like insiders. This may be the easiest option, but also the least fulfilling.”

This sounds strangely similar to showing up.

Perfectly said, I realized, as I feel myself creeping into another, for lack of a real phrase, “show up-y” stage of life. I admit this with one appeal. I hope to hear someone else is too. Maybe not exactly like my age/my stage, but your age/your stage. Maybe you’re restless or bored. Maybe you’re overwhelmingly content.

Maybe it’s what writer Emily Madill called “the in-between stages,” which she described as “The place where life settles into a rhythmic pattern with space between the ebb and flow…The period in time where we can just be, where we have an opening to breathe…”

Since we’re breathing anyway, it might be the right season to show up in a new space or a familiar space in a new way, because clearly there are things we don’t know exist—like islands, or people, or sunflowers we’ve seen a thousand times—just waiting to be seen.

We don’t know what we don’t know. (In a positive, cup-half-full kind of way.) In my case, it’s a tea cup and it tastes sweet and a little sour.

Simple. Just the way I like it.