This Week

Bored this morning, so decided to post a weekend update! Some of this is reposted from Facebook but whatever…

Two years ago I started learning Japanese in part to play Yakuza 5 (impatience with Sega) and because I was bored and wanted to pick up a new hobby. I’m playing through the first game today to gauge how much I’ve learned, and believe it or not, I’m able to read and understand about 30% of what is said. That may not seem like much, but that is extraordinary considering the amount of Kanji, pronunciations, and speech patterns to listen out for…not to mention everything would have looked like hieroglyphics 2 years ago. I can understand much of the game through context, which helps boost me to the next level.

I also enjoy studying the developmental aspect of learning. How do we as children grow and develop and understand languages? I didn’t start talking until I was 4, yet As a child I still was able to grasp what my parents asked of me (sometimes) and what was expected of me. As such, my earliest memory was my 2nd birthday, I remember a cake with a giant “2” on a black tile floor. I understood the significance of that event despite not being able to convey it…like a mental block that held back speech, understanding, and comprehension. As an adult I still see some of those blocks when I learn a new language, reading in Japanese I see “XXXX XXXXXX XX NEWSPAPER XXX XXXXXX XX STORY XX XXXX XXX READ? and filling out the blanks still is a process in learning. Breaking through the psychological blocks and learning through repetition and understanding patterns…it’s fun .

I guess the hard part is trying to make meaning of it all. Sometimes it’s easy to say “What’s the point?” and give up. The reasons are numerous: Japanese isn’t as important of a language to learn as Mandarin or Spanish, the hours spent studying could be used elsewhere, I don’t have any plans on going back to Japan, I don’t know anyone who is Japanese, and if I wait long enough, most games or anime will likely be localized and translated.

In many ways, it’s goes beyond simply learning a new language. It’s the meaning of everything I do: What’s the point in playing video games? Collecting figures? Building models? Watching movies, tv, or anime? What’s the point of…anything?

But the reality is that without that essence of distraction, my life will be summed up in three things: Work, Eat, and Sleep. When I went back to my ship yesterday to pick up my medical records, behind the kind greetings and warm hellos…there was also a feeling of frustration, envy, and entrapment from my co-workers. Many of my buddies were telling me their stories of woe, their frustrations at the bureaucratic process, and their problems with performing maintenance that should be very, very simple.

In reality, we create limitations for ourselves. We tell ourselves “I can’t draw because I’m not skilled in it”, “I can’t understand physics because it’s too complicated”, “I can’t be a leader because I don’t believe I can do it”. We become content with ourselves, saying “Yes, sir”, “No, sir” without asking the questions “Why?”

That’s why two years ago I made the decision to keep learning and evolving as a human being. Even if it has nothing to do with my career, the latest trends, or how I appear to everyone else.

That is why I refuse to say “Education ends at college”. Whether in the area of art, science, language, history, or writing; I tell myself “Yeah, I may not be writing the next screenplay or drawing for Marvel Comics, but you know what? I’m doing *something* with my life, and that’s better than not doing anything at all.”

Hmm, so that’s my rant for the week I guess. Good stuff!

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