Believe it or not, I’m a pacifist. I really, literally am. I can’t even handle proper violence in movies (stylized ballet-type stuff like “The Matrix” is fine but “Sin City” and anything like that is far too much for me). Violence is physically, psychologically and morally abhorrent to me. And from a practical standpoint, I also suck at inflicting it, so there’s that 😉 .
Physical violence tends to be worse than verbal or psychological violence. But sometimes the opposite can be true.
Having said that, I don’t think anger and violent impulses are themselves wrong or even bad. The trick is to channel them correctly. Without getting too personal or maudlin, I will say that for me, immersion and SRSing have, at many times, been a constructive outlet, channel and refuge for a great deal of anger and pain. It’s the whole “gather up your pity and turn it into ambition” thing that Coolio once rapped about, back during one of those occasional periods when it was cool to write positive rap lyrics 😉 .
Sometimes, people say or do things that are so stupid, so damaging, so painful, so hurtful, that you start to think they’d be better off dead. Especially if they do it repeatedly and habitually.
Fortunately, our world today is one where you can’t just go killing people. And it’s a good thing, too, because almost all human beings — even Inuyasha fans — are useful in some way or another.
But you still want to kill them. So what do you do?
Walk away. Briskly.
Walk far away.
Walk away and never look back.
Never use their names again.
Never think their name again.
Do not speak to them.
Do not speak of them.
The same goes for writing as for speaking.
Destroy every communication record you have with them and photograph you have of them.
They do not exist. They never existed. They were never even born.
They never existed.
And if you accidentally happen to think of them, start thinking of something nice instead. Like the smell of muffins. Or Taylor Swift trying to make out with you but finally leaving you alone so you can eat those awesome-smellin’ muffins in peace because she needs to stop acting so needy, Taylor, damn!
I need space too, okay?
Where were we? Oh yeah — legal murder of bad people.
Of course, erasing such people from your words, thoughts and life isn’t actually murder, which undermines the rather dark title of this post even as it soothes lingering concerns about its author’s sanity. No, it’s better than murder. It’s legal. It’s humane. And it does everything that murder is supposed to do but (ironically) can’t, namely remove an offending individual from your life permanently and completely.
Now, what if it’s not so easy? What if this person is deeply enmeshed into your life and you can’t just instantly put that kind of distance between yourself and them?
Sad face. The sad face is the answer 😉
Do the next best thing. Reduce the frequency and amplitude/quantity of your exposure to that person. If you can’t do the best thing, do the next best thing. And if you can’t do the next best thing, do the next next best thing. And if you can’t do that, do the third next best thing. Next-n. And on n goes to infinity. There are always options for improvement; there are always options that lead to improvement. Contact may be inevitable, but it is never irreducible. Total removal may be temporarily impossible, but it is never permanently impossible.
Incidentally, this is why school shootings are so sad — school is, after all, temporary. And workplace shootings are even sadder — unlike most schools, workplaces are all voluntary (we’ll ignore prisons and human trafficking because that’s a whole other can of inapplicable worms), and; everybody chooses the work they do and has the legal and physical power to leave at any time. It’s the psychological power that is lacking.
We choose our work. We are adults. We are free. It takes some of us a long time to realize this. Some of us forget it. Some of us never realize it. But the fact that we sometimes fail to notice it doesn’t make it any less true — radio stations don’t stop existing just because we’re not currently tuned into them; the radio waves were and are there all along, just waiting for us to step up to the plate.
We are free. And even when we are not free it’s because we give up our freedom. We are free to take it back at any time. Verily, even right this moment.
At any given moment, we may or may not have a limited set of options, but we freely choose those options and we have the power to choose options that create more (and better) options.
So the radio metaphor breaks down a bit, and in the best way possible because (as it turns out) our position is better than radio. So this is one of those times where actually *want* a metaphor to collapse.
You see, we’re not simply passive consumers, tuning into existing radio and TV stations. We are simultaneously both consumers and producers. We create as we consume. Our choice of what we tune into can, both literally and figuratively, create new radio stations, new frequencies, new options, new universes, new timelines, new lifepaths for ourselves and other people.
Now, on the face of itß, none this talk of murder and radio tuners has anything to do with getting used to languages. It actually does — at least to some extent. But, as with any true essay, this was a common thread that only just occurred to me. And frankly, it doesn’t feel that skrong. So I’m not gonna sit here and tell you that I knew that it was going to tie together: I didn’t.
Japanese — the language — is blind. She doesn’t know who you are or where you’re from. She only cares what you do. She’s “just” an information pattern (but a big and awesome one). She has no prejudices. She doesn’t discriminate against you or anyone else in the modern, negative sense of the term (of course, “discrimination” used to only be a positive/neutral word, and we still praise people for having “discriminating tastes”). She treats you exclusively based on your behavior — what you do (in that sense, she has “discriminating tastes”).
So, if you ignore her, abandon her and never interact with her, you will be dead to her and she will be dead to you. And if — and only if — you tune into her, she will, over time, open up new options and new universes for you.
The trick is, you have to be her friend. Love her as she is, not as she will be or should be or could be. Love Japanese. Love your level of Japanese as it is right now. Love the word you’re learning right now. Don’t be too arrogant or too humble to learn. Especially don’t be overly humble. Just keep moving. Keep exploring. Keep growing.
Kindergarten-level common sense (KLCS) is real. It is real and it is pervasive. And it has a way of re-asserting itself, right when we think we’re too old or too good or too smart for it, which is a lot of the time.
So here’s some KLCS (“KILCOS”?): you’re not going to get used to Japanese by not spending time hearing (not even listening, but hearing) a lot of Japanese. You’re not going to get good at writing Japanese by hand by never reading or writing by hand any Japanese.
And guess what? The things you need to do to get good are almost exactly the same as the things you need to do to stay good.