I’ve figured it out, people. I finally brought a magic bottle of Japanese special sauce from down from the mountain. You can learn Japanese in one second, and I will show you how…
OK, so I really wrote that title to make you look (Haha! Made you look!), but it actually has a good deal of relevance to the content of this post. Which is basically this: it only takes 1 second to learn Japanese.
Less, even. It only takes one “moment” to learn Japanese. In other words, the smallest unit of time you are capable of perceiving is all it takes to learn Japanese. Without getting esoteric, I think we can safely define this thing called a moment — the smallest perceptible quantum of time — and this thing is all you really have a hold of in terms of action. Sure, we talk about hours and years and centuries, but those are nothing but way s of collecting moments; they are abstractions. The moment is concrete. The moment is where you live and act. You have never taken an hour to do something as such. You simply did one thing in one moment, and then another thing in another moment, and then called it an hour to spare everyone the grim moment-to-moment details.
So, you’re sitting there, and you’re thinking “I want to learn Japanese”. But, you think it’s going to take forever, the classic “ten years”; you think you’re going to have to live up on a mountain in Tibet (which as we all know is in Japan, just like the Shaolin Temple), wear a kimono and marry a Japanese woman called Kumiko, and all that just so you can get decent at doing every day things like buying milk. As for literacy, forget it! I mean, haven’t you heard? Japanese was invented so that foreigners could never understand it! Not even Japanese people understand it! So why bother, right? Give up! Turn on MTV instead, because TRL is on, and they might show that Gwen Stefani video where she wears a tank-top; that’ll be good. Let’s save time and heartache and watch that instead! Right?
No, of course freaking not! Let me hit you with some knowledge. All your learning of Japanese is, is simply a string of moments in which you learn something and remember it in the next moment when you’re learning the next thing, such that you know more in the next moment than you did in the previous moment. You know more now, than you did one second ago; you know more one second later, than you do now. You know more today than yesterday and more tomorrow than today. That’s it. The key here is the moment. You don’t have to spend ten years, you only have to spend this moment, right here, right now. Now. NOW! There is essentially nothing else to it, but whether or not you become fluent in Japanese entirely depends on your little choices in these tiny, “insignificant” little moments. Surely two minutes of MTV can’t hurt, you say? No, my friend, those two minutes don’t just hurt: they’re killing you.
All you have to do to climb the mountain of Japanese (newflash: it’s really a hill, by the way), then, is put one foot in front of the other in the direction of up. Come on, how hard is that? All you need do to learn Japanese is learn one kanji/kana/word/sentence and then use that knowledge to learn the next. You don’t need to be a genius, a billionaire, or of Asian descent: you just need to be consistent. To use some really cool metaphors I once heard: Japanese is like rowing upstream, just keep paddling; it’s like warming a rock, all you have to is sit on it. As a reader on KanjiClinic once said: learning Japanese doesn’t take brain-power, just butt-power. So get comfortable on that rock and enjoy your ride.
So, I know I keep saying this, but, Japanese isn’t something you acquire as much as something you turn into. And the only way you’re going to turn into it is by using (all of) what you have. And all you have is this tiny, precious moment that you’re busy wasting on deciding whether or not to watch Gwen’s new video. Solution: don’t watch it. Watch a Japanese video instead. Two years from now, you’ll still be able to go back and YouTube “No Doubt” in about two seconds; but for now, let it go. As Winston Churchill once said to me when we were hanging out: “Gwen Stefani will still be pretty in two years, but if you don’t learn some Japanese right now…then in the morning you’ll still be ignorant”.
Dude, now that I think about it, Winston Churchill would have written a great blog about Japanese: “We shall learn it on the beaches; we shall learn it in the fields and in the streets; we shall learn it in the bedroom…”
Anyway, take care and always always always have fun!