Sunday, June 17, 2012

My sister's 10 minutes and my Italian

My sister wrote that some of my posts make meditation sound attractive but that she can't find the ten minutes a day.  I have said since college that I want to be fluent in another language besides English.  I am interested in Italian, Japanese and Finnish.  We have materials to study parts of all those languages on the internet.  I haven't found 15-30 minutes a day to study vocabulary or syntax of any of these or other languages.

Since I know that both of us can indeed find a little time in most days to meditate or study vocabulary, I wonder why we don't.  That concept again of Shawn Achor's activation energy, the extra push or the extra time it takes to get started on an activity seems relevant.  A number of chemical and physical processes require an extra spurt of energy, above the maintenance level, to get a process started.  Once started, the needed energy can drop some since the maintenance level is lower than the required start-up.  

I realize that I am not a simple machine and merely listing several new projects I want to commit myself too may well be inadequate to launch them or continue them.  My time, my life, my ideas, my motivations are not simple.  My concept of them may be but the actuality is complex, ever-changing and multi-dimensional.  So, I have to take it a bit easy on myself and not beat myself up too badly if I have wanted to know more Italian but have made truly amazingly slower than glacial progress.  Fifty years is more than enough time to get to a subject or activity and having more or less not done so, I have to conclude I need to try harder, smarter and more often.

I can start by checking the value of making progress.  Do I want to learn more Italian?  How much am I going to use it?  Is one of the other languages a better bet for me?  Should I enroll in a course?  Maybe paying out some money would draw out more of an investment from me, more of a commitment.  I might make a schedule that isn't daily, like three days or even one day a week, for Italian.

When I finished the Brain Fitness Program, the final slide advocated learning a foreign language or a musical instrument as good activities for brain workouts.  Since I probably have no more than 20 years left in my life at the most, I better try a little harder if I want to do much in Italian.

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