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Bucolic Wisdom, Or: Stop Slagging Seeds, Silly City Slickers!

July 21, 2010
By

I spent my early childhood in a semi-rural environment, up in a place high above sea level. We enjoyed twelve months a year of autumn, rolling green pastures. There were cornfields, cows, horses, sheep, goats, dogs and, yes, leopards. It was beautiful. The kind of place that would have made enterprising English people 100 years ago go: “Johnson…let’s kill almost all the natives, steal the land, rename it, and then force the survivors to work on it for us”. :P

I did a lot of “experiments” growing corn (we called it maize, but…whatever). Every morning I would have breakfast with milk straight from our cow, tomatoes from our vegetable patch, guavas from our guava tree, eggs from our chickens. Sometimes I would actually milk the cow myself, but…I actually found milking really hard to do — I couldn’t seem to get the squeeze right. I was much more interested in the drinking part of the operation anyhow. And someone had to play with the rabbits.

I wouldn’t say I grew up on a farm, but…on the way to school, it almost seemed like there were as many people in cars as on horses.

Why am I already taking you down memory lane at my age? Why this whole…Mormon devotional speech routine with the stories of barns in Idaho and double-digit child families presided over by stern-but-loving fathers? You’ll see. Bear with me.

So, here in Japan, I again live in a semi-rural suburban area. Not nearly as rural as my place in Kenya, but certainly more rural than the 23 wards of Tokyo. There are acres of rice paddies just a few minutes down the road. Plenty of tractor-only or tractor-priority roads. Vending machines with vegetables and eggs fresh from the field.

This semi-rural place is about an hour out of Tokyo.

So yesterday, I go into Tokyo proper. You know, just to hang out. And I was doing my usual, I dunno…machinations. Calculating optimal subway routes in my head, getting really excited about having gotten on a train six minutes earlier than the original plan, and therefore put myself in a position to enjoy slower changeovers down the line. Momoko rolled her eyes at me: “yay, 6 minutes”.

And it hit me right there. To the extent that I was playing and “winning” at all these abiotic, artificial games, I was building and exercising at least one form of intelligence. I could feel that Flynn Effect :P . I could see how living in an information-rich urban environment could really raise one’s IQ. The city was making me smart.

On the way back from Tokyo, I saw a little train ad for a Berlitz summer crash course in English, marketed specifically at people who’ve been neglecting their English all year and want to really “skill up” and “level up” in a frantic, intensive burst of summer righteousness. “Learn 6 months of English in 5 days”

Yeah, right.

The city makes you smart. The city makes everyone smart. But the countryside makes you wise.

You don’t have to live in a big city to be an urbanite. You just have to be removed from natural growth processes such as food production. Pretty much, if you don’t grow your own food, you are an urbanite. The majority of people who live in the more comfortable and convenient countries of the world, are urbanites. I am an urbanite, too. I just had the privilege of an extended rural experience a long time ago.

I submit to you that it is because so many of us live in urban environments, that we have trouble learning languages or doing any kind of sustained long-term project. We give up on our languages; we give up on our blogs; we give up on exercise; we give up on diets; we give up on New Year’s Resolutions by mid-February; we give up on reading Tolstoy. The words “long time” are anathema to us.

In urban environments, for the most part, we do not get to observe, ponder and participate in a wide range of organic (biotic) growth processes. In urban environments we do not move far; we do not see far (buildings block our field of vision), and thus we cease to think far and act for the long. We see no connection between the present and the distant future.

In urban environments, things do not get better with time — they get worse. Things do not grow, they decay. Things do not regenerate, they just die. We don’t really reuse things (although we occasionally pretend to get other people to reuse things for us and call it “recycling”). Your TV doesn’t grow into a big-screen TV. It gets old, becomes incompatible with the new TV standard, stops working, and gets thrown away. Certainly, it doesn’t appreciate in value. About the only thing that grows in an abiotic, urban environment is interest — but evidence abounds that few of us urbanites understand even this man-made growth process.

We are divorced from the cycle of life.

  • An oak tree grows tall, strong and majestic, deepening its roots…the older, the better. Sometimes it talks to hobbits ;) .
  • An old TV becomes sodaigomi (oversized garbage). Dead weight. Bulk.  It gets thrown in the dumpster, to be replaced with something new — the newer, the better. Just like those fad diets and New Year’s resolutions

Since urban environments rarely give us the privilege of observing natural improvement over time, it becomes hard, even impossible to believe that such a thing exists. That’s why so many of you can come to AJATT.com and be like “pull the other one, Khatzumoto”.

“Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.”
Francis Bacon…Bits

The urban environment, being largely unnatural (or, if you prefer, unlike most of the rest of nature — because you could argue that everything we do is “natural”) is largely devoid of lessons and metaphors to help us understand nature. This doesn’t seem to be a problem, but of course it is, because we (our bodies) are a 100% natural, organic…biotic system. You are not powered by AA batteries…yet.

Because we do not understand nature, we do not understand ourselves. We try to act on ourselves without understanding ourselves; we try to act as if we were machines. And it almost never works. Oftentimes it even damages and/or kills us.

There’s a lot of open space in rural areas. So the farmer sees far. Perhaps as an indirect result of this, she also thinks far. And she can act in the now for the far.

Have you ever seen a farmer handling seed? Have you seen the reverence? The care? The conscientious storage? The excited acquisition? Even though they’re nothing but seeds; they’re tiny; they frequently look nothing like the finished product.

But the farmer loves seeds. She loves them because she can see beyond the present; she has seen growth before and she understands that she will see it again: all she has to do is do her part. She’ll till the field and never once complain that “I’ve been tilling for 3 weeks and nothing has happened”, because she understands that things have their season. She understands that things grow and mature of their own accord — if only they are nourished. She understands that things can take a positive form quite unlike their present form as a result of her actions long before the transformation.

The farmer understands that:

  1. Things take time, but
  2. You cannot be idle during that time
  3. You have to do your part so that nature can do its part

Sidenote: When I say “understand” I do not mean “know about”. In this context, I’m using “understand” to refer to internalized, procedural knowledge rather than declarative knowledge. Successful lionesses clearly “understand” how hunting works, even though they may suck at verbalizing about it.

The farmer lives on timescales of seasons and years and generations. The farmer may have inherited the land from her ancestors, and she will pass it down to her descendants, and they to theirs. Years and decades are not an unimaginable eternity to the farmer. Heck, (assuming no hormones, which is perhaps a statistically unrealistic assumption in the current US, but a fair one in the part of the world I’m from) it can take a couple of years for your cow to even start producing milk.

The urbanite detests lengths of time. The urbanite hates small things. The urbanite loathes beginnings. The urbanite uses “back to square one” as an insult. To the urbanite, spending his life in various types of squares, the first square of something is a terrible place to be. Unless an urban institution makes him do otherwise (and even then), the urbanite lives in the eternal present and immediate future, and acts for results and gain in the present and immediate future. He may go to college for four years, but only for the paper, and he’ll cram the whole time there. He lives in, on and for conclusions. His is a world of ends and results, not means and processes.

Just about everything for the urbanite comes finalized. The urbanite’s food often comes to him pre-packaged and pre-cooked; his clothes come to him ready-made. The only natural growth and change he regularly sees are, again, decay processes — the food he eats turns into either feces or a substrate for mold. His electronic devices become obsolete and turn into trash. His car wears out. Fashions become “so last year”. Jokes become stale.

Almost nothing in the urban environment is telling you that “things get bigger and better with time as a direct consequence of your actions starting from when they are small and nearly invisible”. The urbanite has no time for that kind of delay and verbosity.

Almost nothing in the urban environment is telling you that “you are a co-creator with nature: you do your part and nature does its part”. In the urban environment, nature only destroys — weeds grow in your concrete; pests invade your house; rust forms on your car; and heaven forbid that water — the solvent of life — should get on your electronics. In the urban environment, if it’s not new, fresh and done, then it is, literally and figuratively, stale and crap.

So when a Khatzumoto tells an urbanite — one with the urban mindset: “you’re getting better with time, you just can’t see it yet”, an urbanite smells snake oil. After all, how can things get better with time? How can the invisible become visible? How can important processes happen beyond human knowledge and intervention? It just doesn’t seem emotionally possible. The urban mindset doesn’t allow a person to understand natural growth.

To be sure, nature destroys in rural environments, too. But it builds far more.

The critical period hypothesis must be an urban invention. It seems like it would require an urban mind — someone living an urban life — to decide that a brain and body that contain more accumulated knowledge than they have ever previously contained, are a pile of crap simply because they have reached an arbitrarily decided age. Even that word “age”. In verb form, it seems to only get treated like a good thing when referring to wine and cheese.

Urbanites have a hubris and a sense of urgency about them that can be useful (throwing things away can be good sometimes)…except when it makes people counterproductively impatient. You can game and force and crash course and cram for an abiotic test. But you can’t do that with real, natural language (yet). You can work with nature — you can get nature to help you — but it appears that you can’t break nature’s rules and really win.

Farmers have a resignation to nature (their most important work partner) that can seem like fatalism, except when it’s correct and produces consistent, continuous, forward-looking behavior and desired results.

Urbanites are smart.
Farmers are wise.

And that’s why smart people like you have been having trouble learning Japanese. Not because you’re dumb, but because you’re smart. And folksy idiots like me have learned it quite well, not because we’re idiot savants, but because we understand and follow nature’s rules. At least in this part of our lives.

Next time you want to know how to learn a language, don’t come to this website. Get a popcorn kernel, put it in some soil, and water it every day. Grow a plant from seed. It will teach you everything you need to know. And while you’re at it, go somewhere high. Very high. Somewhere you can see far. Maybe there’s a tower in your town. Go up there and look down.

To win, you do need to show up. But that’s about all you need to do. You show up; nature does the rest. Arsonists know how to learn languages: you light matches, but fires burn by themselves.

Don’t work to reach goals, work to create conditions and environments.
Don’t work to achieve something. Let the environment do the work for you.
Don’t change yourself. Just change your surroundings. Your surroundings will then change you — always.

You look beautiful today. That color is great on you. Yes, I will accept your donation.

The Emotional Sentence Pack
The MCD Revolution Kit

36 Responses to Bucolic Wisdom, Or: Stop Slagging Seeds, Silly City Slickers!

  1. ダンちゃん on July 22, 2010 at 00:21

    A very nice post. Thanks Katz.

    “His is a world of ends and results, not means and processes.”

    The modern attitude towards learning and life in generally really is one of ‘instrumental reasoning’. What’s it for? What is that going to get you? This is as self-defeating as it is vulgar. There are few doors in life that will not open for the truly excellent. This kind of excellence can only come from a deeper appreciation of life and growth that you write about here, an ability to link the here and now to the bigger picture of your life. Yet our education system is focused on nothing but teaching many small ‘useful’ facts and subjects and nothing about understanding our own selves, and the march of mediocrity continues on. We console ourselves that those who are excellent are just plain smart, or went to good schools, or know the right people…

    「強くなりたい!」という気持ちを忘れずに、自分の力を養いましょう。

    独学の精神
    www.chikumashobo.co.jp/product/9784480064691/

  2. Greg on July 22, 2010 at 00:26

    Wow. Simply amazing. You’re right: just showing up is all you need. Too much procedure and process (something I suffered from) just adds stress and a feeling of failure. That’s the hardest thing to do, wait and see, but one day it clicks. It hits you. You can be on the train reading the fine print on an insurance ad without realizing you’re even doing it in your L2. You’re not translating it to English; you’re reading it organically and naturally. It’ll happen but only if, as you said, you water and nuture it with nature. Play Harvest Moon with your L2!

    Again, terrific post!

  3. gurkenkralle on July 22, 2010 at 00:59

    すげぇぇ★もっと言葉がいらない・・・この場合勝元先輩は良いね!
    I mean really it hontou xD You are damn right Khatsumoto…
    Maybe a little story of mine: Just about one month ago, when I’ve finished school, I went on holidays for a week. After that I was really lazy with my reps and so on. With Kanjis I did a good comeback thanks to timeboxing with nice, short and quick winnable games. I mean, it was just a minute; a m i n u t e :P Concerning my sentences I really lost my motivation somehow to do them. There are so many different things to do. I cannot find a good reason to start them … ( maybe deleting is the answer ). I haven’t add senteces for a while in there, BUT ( here’s the essence xD ) I still making progress with environment, although I got lazy there, too :( What I’m trying to explain is, that although I stopped worring and bothering about sentences and their reps, I still can get some Japanese. Maybe even more. Maybe the less you care the more you take.
    I really enjoy listening to Japanese music. I spend a lot of my freetime listening to music. With Japanese songs I read and skip through the lyrics from time to time and just “see” some new words or there are some I want to know due to curiosity. (I.e. 階段 from 9mm parabellum bullet – black market blues ).
    Now to your blog entry: Like it is being said. I was a co-worker for Nature herself. I stopped bothering about so many bad rules and even got results from her. I do not want to sound smart or intelligent right now. I only want to share that I was TOUCHED by this article.
    Hopefully i can get back to SRSing and more sentences and so on to reach fluency some day in the distant future.

    Greetz 亜っちゃん

  4. lxmorj on July 22, 2010 at 03:39

    Best one I’ve read yet. Very well thought out, Khatz :)

  5. Erick on July 22, 2010 at 04:21

    Haha! I LOVE the reference to Mormon Devotional speeches! I go to BYU, and anecdotes like those are so common! Love your website, by the way.

  6. Ayana on July 22, 2010 at 05:24

    The only thing I can say that I grow (and wait for a looong time) is my dread locks (for 2 years now) and even that is dead. But I can say that in TIME it keeps looking better and I do take care of it. I was really happy that I’m going through the journey and so glad I’m going through the journey of learning Japanese now. I completely agree with this entry. I’m glad I’m learning the AJATT way.

  7. Luke on July 22, 2010 at 06:52

    I agree with lxmorj. Your best post yet– and given the inspirational, motivational, and high quality nature of most of your content, that’s really saying something. Keep up the good work Khatz :)

  8. Mario on July 22, 2010 at 07:05

    Thanks Khatz. This is, in my opinion, the best post you’ve written in a while (not that the others were bad :)). I can really relate to it because my grandparents were farmers, and I think that I grew up with a very agrarian mindset, but lately I’ve become more and more an urbanite. I live in New Jersey, and my family and I drove to Atlanta this summer for a fencing tournament. I’ve been to the South before, and it certainly has a different way of life (complete with its own pros and obvious cons). That said, I found myself getting impatient with the elements of the South that I used to find charming, even romantic. I was losing my appreciation for all things gradual and slow. I needed my dinner, my change, my ticket RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.
    I think there’s a real beauty in subtle things that creep up on you over time, whether they be Southern moss or learning a language. I’m an instinctively goal-oriented person, and I naturally appreciate the end of journeys more than the steps involved. This site and the process of learning Japanese have given me a more mature appreciation of incremental progress. The “steps” of the thousand-mile journey. By making those steps really, truly fun, you’ve encouraged me to take more and more of them. It almost feels like running downhill. Equally reckless maybe, but incredibly fun. This post reminded me to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of gradual processes; after all, most goals worth seeking depend on them.
    I could go on and on about this, but I have some manga to read, and SRS bubbles to pop. Thanks for everything.

  9. Joshua Rodriguez on July 22, 2010 at 07:32

    Wow, that’s the most amazing article I’ve read in my life. Excellent job Khatz.

  10. matt on July 22, 2010 at 12:50

    Choochoo! Here comes the praise train!

    Really, this is your best work. Thank you.

    -Matt

  11. Tom on July 22, 2010 at 21:15

    Wow, that’s really interesting, makes alot of sense and describes me all too well!

    I’m gonna go plant a tree ;)

  12. Thomas on July 22, 2010 at 23:51

    I suppose the ultimate irony is that your site is that quick fix that so many of us urbanites use to make us feel like we’re back on track.

    Having grown up in and lived in a big city all my life, this is one of the hardest lessons I’ve tried to learn. It’s as you said: Everything is packaged. Everything is new and fast and here now and if it’s not, it’s useless. *Nothing* grows.

    So the only experience one being completely enveloped in an urban environment has with this growth process is with ourselves. When you read advice the likes of which you see on AJATT and then apply it and find that this stuff actually works, only then do you have that little snippit of life from which you can pull the knowledge of consistency over time equalling success.

    It’s not taught here, as I’m sure you know. It’s something you have to teach yourself. The hardest part about it is that the only way you really believe advice like this is if you have experienced it first hand. I can read AJATT until my mind goes numb and know like I know my name that the advice here is fantastic, but when it comes down to actually doing it, it’s hard as hell.

    Anyway, this post was fantastic and, as usual, dead on.

    Thanks.

  13. blackbrich on July 23, 2010 at 02:14

    Say word son. Nice.

  14. anonymouse on July 23, 2010 at 05:05

    Ironically, a city itself needs to be cultivated like a crop or some other kind of natural system, one that slowly grows and evolves and potentially builds itself up over the course of decades if not centuries. It’s unfortunate that urbanites have entirely the wrong mindset for growing and caring for the places that produced them (and presumably their mindset).

  15. [...] voodoo, especially to people who’ve spent the greater part of their waking lives in school, in a mostly abiotic urban or suburban environment, playing short-term memory games [online preview], prohibited from observing and participating in [...]

  16. Aron on July 23, 2010 at 15:39

    Kats, I think you would probably love this book called “The Practicing Mind: Bringing Discipline and Focus Into Your Life”. I read it recently and your post really reminds me of it. It’s short and talks all about focusing on process and enjoying the process (as opposed to only end results).

    www.amazon.com/Practicing-Mind-Bringing-Discipline-Focus/dp/0977657205/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1279866919&sr=1-1

    Smart post. You are wise. ;)

  17. fdsfdaafsd on July 23, 2010 at 15:47

    I don’t understand Khatz. Seeing far won’t get you anywhere. It’s always gonna be the same. Having a far view of things does nothing for you if your just going to go back. Same thing for farming and nature if we really observe things we will always be the same thanks to our enviroment. Like your site for example you keep telling people motivating things but people will just go back to their English bubble eventually. It’s what’s built inside us for years. Same goes for forced schooling we’re so use to the goverment forcing us to do this that it’s NORMAL. To become Japanese you have to destroy everything and replace it. Including this site use as a crutch to feel like we’re doing something.

    Anyways what I’m trying to say is that it’s up to us to change. The change that makes dreams come true and how the famous people become famous. They kept going more so than the normal, intermediate, and more so advance people. That level is the same as god to us and we can’t believe we can reach such a plane. That’s why people worship you even though your lazy. You could do so many articles and we can read it all and open our eyes but it won’t work if we don’t do anything about it.

  18. ShiningStar on July 23, 2010 at 16:48

    Dear Khatz!

    I must say I love your site, you are such an inspiration, you make me focus on my goals, and you motivated me to go on many times with your site. I read your site on the train daily on my iPhone.
    I just donated to show my respect for your works, you words are worth more than any book I ever bought about learning Japanese.
    Thank you!

  19. Daniel on July 24, 2010 at 01:24

    Dear Khatz,

    What are you doing for work nowadays?

  20. Einar on July 24, 2010 at 04:41

    I just got a little worried, i tried writing my name in katakana and ended up with: エイナル。Which when i sound it out sound remarkably like: アナル Maybe i should considerd changin my name before going to Japan…. Anybody who has any ideas or advice?

  21. Drewskie on July 24, 2010 at 06:02

    エイナー maybe?

  22. 田舎もの on July 24, 2010 at 10:10

    Devil’s advocate:

    To me the rural feels like it runs on a cycle. It’s more about the process of life here and not about the ends. That’s true. But something is also lost with that.

    Go up a high slope and you may be able to look down across an entire valley (in my case, the ocean), but eventually your vision will only take you so far. If you want to go across that valley, or go across the sea, then you need a car or a plane.

    In the city, a long term perspective would be considered as looking a year or two down the road. In terms of our entire life, this is actually short term.

    But is this such a bad thing? It’s not a conscious effort of limiting vision, but rather that the horizon becomes blurry. This is because of change.

    Everything in the city is changing. Industries that people work in are often changing. The environment itself is changing. People are changing as they join different social groups and widen their perspective. It’s hard to think about ten years down the road because circumstances just won’t be the same.

    Let’s look back at the farmer. Does the work change that much? Excluding outside social forces which may affect the business side of their work, the farming itself does not face so much change. They do their work for life, raise their children, and their children may continue the parent’s work. In Japan’s case, the children will also learn and repeat the same festivals that their parents did. Local festivals and school festivals. Year after year, the same process can be expected.

    To get outside of your bubble and see other perspectives, to experience more change in life, the city life is best. City folk may not be wise and may not see down the long term, but in focusing on the short term and living in a changing environment something else is gained.

    (Writing style aside: imo, city = micro-managers, rural = macro-managers. Combining both is the way to win. In the end, it’s a matter of personalities too. We tend to lean one way or the other.)

  23. ざっちー on July 24, 2010 at 13:06

    @Einar

    My name is Zach. So, technically I should go by ザック. However, to give myself more of a renewed, Japanese identity, I referred back to a childhood nickname (Zachy) and fiddled with it a little. To my Japanese friends, I go by ざっちー.
    This is your chance to choose your own name. I wouldn’t be afraid to play around to get something you like and is easily pronounced in Japanese.

    Hope that helps a little. (^0^)

    On a different note, I’m glad the sidebars are back, Khatz. They helped me in the beginning and I think the fresher newbies will be grateful for them as well.

  24. Ryan on July 24, 2010 at 23:05

    Very good article… awesome philosophy.

  25. Angeldust on July 27, 2010 at 07:54

    Thanks Khatz. I’ve been in a slump with my Japanese and this helped a lot.

  26. Dani on July 28, 2010 at 09:16

    @Einar @ざっちー

    Yeah, the closest katakanisation for my name is ダニ, which is a horrible bug which lives in your tatami and bites you in the night :-(. So I artificially elongated the final syllable a bit when I got here, just to differentiate myself from those: ダニー.

    Given that mine is a pretty common name, there are plenty of other people called Dani/Danny who have come over here, and I’ve seen the name written both ways (ダニ/ダニー), so I guess it’s not that unusual.

    In any case, the fact is that your name is probably going to sound totally different in Japanese anyway due to the limited set of sounds available, so you may as well choose something different-sounding that also sounds, y’know, good.

    Anyway, back on topic…

    I agree with the post. And it’s reawakened the “leave it all behind and go live life as a farmer somewhere in the middle of nowhere for a bit just to see what it’s like” fantasy that I indulge in a couple of times a year. But, here’s a thought…

    Those who’ve lived in the country, as you say, have an appreciation for just putting the work in and trusting nature to take its course and deliver them rewards down the line. City slickers like a sense of measurable progress. They like to see immediate results when they put in the work. They (we) would find it hard to go out into the country, and plant seeds, and just trust that one day those seeds will grow into cabbages, or carrots, or mielies, or whatever. “If only there were a way to monitor all this!” They would scream.

    If only there was a device that you could plant WITH the seed, that would sit there, nurturing and monitoring it. If you were worried about the status of your seed, you could go look at some graphs describing how it’s developing. If the seed looked to be dying, the device would quickly give it an injection to bring it back to life; so that not only does it give you a sense of progress, but it ensures that progress continues. And even once the seed has grown into a big, strong plant, that device would be there, making sure it doesn’t rot, stopping it from catching some disease and dying. It would take the uncertainty, and the fear that nothing is happening right out of farming! In fact, I think I’m going to patent this idea; I’ll call it the “Seed Revival System”, or, you know, SRS for short.

    Of course, this is sort of another angle to the main thrust of your article, which I think was “just chill out a bit, O neurotic worriers of the world”. But for those who struggle to take things on faith, for those addicted to that sense of measurable progress… SRS helps. So long as you don’t get too obsessed with the numbers and start stressing out when they’re not advancing as quickly “as they should be”. If there’s one thing I’ve started to learn recently, it’s that there is no should, there is only what is — I might go for over a week without adding any sentences to my SRS, because I just don’t feel like it, but of course I’m still doing Japanese every day. When I come back to the SRS, lo and behold, lots of sentences that would have been painful and difficult a week ago are suddenly a joy to understand and enter in.

    In short:
    1) Use the SRS to give you the sense of measurable progress you’re so addicted to…
    2) …but also trust your instincts. If there’s enough Japanese around you, “slumps” will right themselves. In fact, they’re probably not slumps at all, just moments of germination where your mind needs to be left alone to process its new information.

  27. Jaybot7 on July 28, 2010 at 15:08

    I was standing around waiting for a train in what’s left of the 吉祥寺駅の井の頭線 and thinking about this post when I realized that no one defended the city slickers :)

    The only reason I thought about it was by looking at the construction of the train tracks they have been working on for *several years now* (although it’s construction has only been visible above ground in the past year). The average city slicker may or may not care, but they get to watch the construction workers working on those tracks daily, and watch its really slow progress until after a year, or two, or three, it turns into an amazing, brand spanking new train track.

    The same applies to the giant buildings you see under construction in 東京. They usually have a big white fence surrounding them to keep away a bit of the eyesore (but there are always little windows you can peek in and check on its progress, regardless of how slow; and see the construction workers slaving away on their project day after day, beam by beam). But what’s just as amazing is they always have the date the project is planned to be finished by (usually 2-3 years later), so they *know* how long it takes, and how much little work it required to get there. And, they’re usually on time.

    And I’m pretty sure those construction workers working on buildings, etc in 東京 live in the city they work.

    I’ll say the same goes for corporations as well. Sony didn’t start out as a giant, international conglomerate. It started as one dude (井深大) who started a started a tiny radio repair shop in a bomb-damaged building. Then he built on it a bit at a time. A short 65 years later, he added another 167,899 people to the roster.

    In any case. There, we city slickers ain’t all that bad ;)

  28. [...] ■Bucolic Wisdom [...]

  29. [...] ■Bucolic Wisdom [...]

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  31. Erick on July 16, 2012 at 06:25

    That’s a great insight you had! And so true. Have you heard of prominent psychologist Philip Zimbardo and his book/theory The Time Paradox? He talks about this very same concept and details the innumerable factors that make people be more future, past or present oriented. Each person has its own mix of orientation and that has huge consequences on how they go about their lives.

    The book is awesome with practical uses for this theory, including goal management. You can make an online test to find out your time profile, also. That way you can plan your strategy better and know your weaknesses.

    You can watch him talk about this theory on various talks on youtube, check it out! 

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