Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Warning: This post is going to ramble a bit.
Over the past few days I’ve been dedicating some time to learning Japanese. I’ve been in love with Japan and Japanese culture for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching Anime, listening to Japanese music, and reading about Japanese culture, and I’ve sort of always wanted to learn the language but I never really gave it a shot. I’ve tried a few times, sure, but then I’d realize how much work I’d have to put into it (shocker, right?) and I’d give up.
Now I’m going for it. I’ve decided to start by learning Hiragana (ひらがな), then Katakana (カタカナ) and, as I go along, some Kanji (漢字). So far I’ve got 15 characters from the Hiragana alphabet down pat, which might not seem a lot (and it isn’t) but it sure means a lot to me.
In a few days I’m going to be 30 and it’s hard to admit, but it’s true… I’m actually finding it harder to learn new things or to stick around long enough to learn them. I’ve so far found two major reasons for this: my brain isn’t as easy to adapt to new things as it was when I was younger, and I just don’t have enough time to dedicate myself completely to a cause.
The first problem I can’t really do anything about other than keep trying. Sure, it might be a little tougher, but tougher never stopped me. It just means I’d have to work a little harder for it.
The second problem, on the other hand, manages to both bother me and excite me. I just don’t have as much free time as I used to have. As I got older, and my ambitions got bigger, I found myself taking on more and more responsibilities. I don’t mind this as it primarily means that I’m growing. Buying a house, for example, was extremely stressful and it swallowed up every minute of free time I had, but what was I supposed to do? Not buy a house? And hey, if giving up some of my time meant I’d have a house of my own, isn’t that a worthy cause?
But priorities don’t enjoy having neighbors. Things get shifted up and down the priority list and only one item can occupy one position. Inevitably, things get relegated to the “someday” category and someday never gets here. Items in the “immediate” category keep coming in, and even when they get done, rarely does an item from the “someday” category rise to the occasion. Instead, another “immediate” item walks in and takes its place.
Learning Japanese was one of the “someday”s. It was so deep down in the list that I’d forget about it for months at a time before it resurfaces randomly. Then I’d take a look at it, figure out I’ve still got time, and back into the “someday” pile it goes.
Last week I started watching Anime again and it brought the “Learn Japanese” dream up to the surface and I guess I’ve had enough of relegating it to the bottom of the pile. Things are hard enough now, there’s no reason to think they’ll ever get any better. There’s just no benefit in waiting. Quite the opposite, in fact.
So, yeah… I’m learning Japanese. I’ve got 200 EUR worth of textbooks coming my way and I can’t wait to start learning in a somewhat more structured way. Until then, I’ll spend my time doodling lines and notches on paper, trying to imitate what I see on the alphabet tables. I’ll be watching videos on Japanese culture. I’ll be immersing myself into the culture a little bit more than I always have.
And I’ll keep dreaming of one day going to Japan. Never going to Japan is my one and only regret so far in my life, and I hope I’m able to change that in the near future.
I’d be mighty pissed if I died before ever getting to visit Tokyo.