Nebraska weather is hella crazy. You’ll have sunscreen in hand, heading out to the dirty ponds we like to call lakes, wearing hot-pants and tank tops one day; be bundled in three hefty coats, hands down your pants [for warmth…], and a foot of snow on the ground the next. マジで！
(This will make sense in a bit, but now for a horrible transition into something completely unrelated!!!)
When facing any non-insta-noodle goal, it can feel like a massively daunting task to take on, no matter how much experience you have under your belt. It’s like watching a 3rd grader equipped with a sharpened twig try to take down a lion in a full-body mecha-suit complete with lasers and RPG’s. Whether it be writing a 10-page paper or learning a language, it’s tough, as in not easy. So, here’s a little present I received on the very day in the dead of winter that we think Jesus may have possibly been born on –that helped me face that robot lion:
No snow that winter of 2009. Not until Christmas Eve night that is. [It’s magic!] Two feet of it! [The point in which magic is no longer magical.] Being the swell guy I am, I decided as a gift to my 母さん [mother] I would shovel her sidewalk. Two feet definitely wouldn’t be as speedy of a run as the normal couple inch fall, but still not too bad… if she lived on a regular plot with only a front to scoop. But no, she thought it would be a riot of fun to live on a corner plot with about three times the amount of walking space, three times the amount of doom. Suddenly, I’m a third grader with a twig, a.k.a. 21-year-old with a shovel.
About six feet in, I was tired, sore, sweaty, and cold. I looked back at the trail I had sculpted, and then out at the ocean of snow that remained. It seemed like a mile, –until just the corner. There was an entire second length to do after that. I wanted to just give in, but that woulda been a lousy gift to my mumzie, so, I kept going.
Now, this is when the golden nugget came to me. Give and you shall receive (←that’s not the nugget).
I kept my head down, scooped three shovelfuls, counting each out, “一、二、三”, stopped, and did the clean up; that is, the side work, refining the waist-high walls of the outdoor winter-land corridor. And kept repeating “一、二、三”, over and over again, sometimes adding a “四” if I was feeling saucy. Before I knew it, I was at the corner. Soon after, I was completely done and my mom was showering me with presents [Yay!] and kisses [eh…]!
You’re probably kindly shrieking, “Where’s my nugget, you SOB?!?”
To which I reply, “I am not an act or sound of noisily crying!”
How did I apply this action to my learning of Nihongo?
I was too obsessed with the ‘When will I be fluent? When will I be done?’, looking at what still lay ahead, not seeing the end, and then becoming overwhelmed. Now, I know the most important thing to accomplishing any goal [minus hockey] is to keep your head down and focus on the few steps in front of you. Never look up. Look back on how far you’ve come every now-and-then, it will keep your spirits busty, but stay locked on those three [or four when you’re feeling saucy] feet in front. Small does not/will not overwhelm. It’s good to know what you want in the end, but don’t make out with it. Keep your tongue in your mouth or be prepared to get discouraged. You won’t shave off huge chunks of time, but it does eliminate those depressing, hopeless moments by keeping you productively busy and satisfied ‘til the end. Keep your head down, before you know it, you’ll be looking at the finish line.
Just work on writing one sentence at time. Eventually you’ll have a paragraph, and then a page, then ten pages, and finally that ever-coveted ‘A’! …for effort. You got a ‘C+’ on the paper. Writing was never your strong point.