What a week it’s been. I’ve gone from wandering the streets of Hong Kong to moving back to Japan and essentially starting my job immediately from interview to training, then into the fire. Hectic is good, though, as idle time tends to wear on me in unexpected ways, first with grinding teeth at night, growing into a constant dull headache. Of the hundreds of things I learned about myself in my Asian travels, this was the most surprising, that time to burn freely traveling, and lounging on beaches was not the stress-free experience I had expected. I had plenty of money, but money always runs out. This thought, teamed up with my frugal ways, is unavoidable. As I get older my buffer savings, the comfortable breathing room to which I’ve grown accustomed, must be larger and larger for me to really cut loose and spend.
And so I work and in it find my peace, through the day in day out drudgery that the act becomes. Conrad sums it up best I think:
“I don’t like work-no man does-but I like what is in the work,-the chance to find yourself. Your own reality-for yourself, not for others-what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never know what it really means.” (Heart of Darkness)
And for the first time I can start to see something emerging that charges my spirits: A body of work, a progression as a young teacher toward the most concrete goals of my life. There is a saying oft quoted that those who do, do, and well you know the rest. With languages I believe this to be largely false, being that to teach a language having had no experience learning one can often be plagued with ineffectiveness. Teaching possible under these circumstances, but not ideal. Of course Japan is full of language teachers who have had little or no experience learning a foreign language and don’t even make an effort with Japanese.
I’m onto my second language now. Together with Spanish I have learned two very contrasting languages, Spanish being difficult in verb conjugation while relatively easy to pronounce and grammar similar to English. Japanese is unique in that it is easy to pronounce, yet has grammar nothing like English and a complex writing system. It also makes use of topical particle which happen to be somewhat of a linguistic scarcity among many of the world’s languages. Learning two structurally different languages has forced me to create new personal study techniques that I can’t help but pass on to my students. This insight has allowed me to grow as both learner and teacher, and continues to direct me more and more to a long-term career in the wide field of linguistic and language acquisition.
From this point the possibilities seem endless, and that is why I’m excited. I can continue to amass experience until I go back to school for a masters in linguistics, or improve my proficiency in languages until I land a good job in whatever country I happen to like at the time. Either way, things are looking good.