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Inertia Can Be Your Friend

A while ago someone asked me whether I still maintained a Japanese environment and why…I told him that yes, I did. And that it was because I believe that while sucking ends, learning never does.

Don’t I sound so deep and wise? HahaHaha. That reason may be partly true, but it may also be self-righteous B.S. on my part (in which case, it wouldn’t be the first time).

Perhaps the most important reason why I maintain a Japanese environment long after reaching fluency is because I’m used to it. I almost don’t know what else to do; I hardly own anything in English. It’s pure inertia; I am continuing to move in the direction of a mental force I applied to myself way back when, even though the force is no longer being applied. This is my default state now.

But that’s not a bad thing, necessarily. In fact it’s a wonderful thing. Pushing the Japanese environment boulder up the hill was hard in the beginning, but now it pretty much pushes itself. It’s a habit. Japanese is a part of me. My PC is in Japanese…my books are either Japanese or Chinese. The TV is on whenever I’m home, and it spurts forth Japanese shows (the good, the mediocre and the bad; I take it all!). This website is one of only three or four English elements in my life (incidentally, I would never have run this website while in the “pure hardcore stage”).

But I don’t actively work to do any of this, not any more. I just do it because it’s there, because it’s what I do. The movements and thought patterns involved are almost subconscious — like reflexes.

So have hope. It is a bit rough in the beginning. In fact, the biggest hurdle to get over isn’t laziness or lack of motivation, but forgetfulness — constantly forgetting that knowing Japanese is your major goal, and everything else has to wait; sometimes I simply forget to do Chinese — it literally slips my mind. As someone once said “discipline is remembering what you want” [emphasis added]; it’s not really a matter of suffering and willpower and self-denial, but more one of your ability to maintain a queue in your mind, and keep Japanese at the very front of that queue; remember the dream. After a while, you’ll forget that there was anything else. Your ability to maintain a Japanese environment — and by extension, to recall Japanese, to read Japanese, to understand and of course to write and speak Japanese is going to increase. Every day, it’s getting easier and easier to do it than before. Every day, every moment, you are getting better. Every repetition you do, every word you hear and see and say is bringing you closer to fluency.

  8 comments for “Inertia Can Be Your Friend

  1. June 24, 2007 at 03:26

    Wow, from one wise platitude to another, you’re just a goldmine of knowledge! Hehe.

    “Discipline is remembering what you want.” That’s so true for so much; dieting, studying abstaining from alcohol. I’ve always been a pretty self-disciplined person and I can’t understand what sometimes makes it so difficult for people to stick to a plan, like not drinking cola.

    Some of the most successful life coaches – and I know because my mum loves life coaching and all that – really focus on positive visualisation. In ‘positive visualisation’ you take time out of your day to image yourself really slim, or really healthy, or fluent in Japanese as the case may be. By reminding yourself of your goal, you stay on track more easily.

    A bit of rant, but I suppose I’m just affirming your wisdom oh mighty one, hehe. (If you haven’t seen already, I’ve a link to you from my now-functioning blog at

  2. David
    October 3, 2008 at 15:13

    Maybe I totally missed the point here, but I already feel a bit of that inertia in the Kanji phase. When I’m doing Kanji, I try to think things like, “what else could I possible do right now?” I’ve already told myself that Kanji comes first, and doing anything else now would be a waste of time. 🙂

  3. Harry
    January 27, 2009 at 06:50

    I can’t believe I found this site! Its like a gold mine… Full of Knowledge, its so… well… so simple really, and it all can be done on your own!

    Its really REALLY strange because in 18 months I plan to move and live in Japan, PRECISELY 18 months. I suppose I should get started!

    I don’t know if your going to read this or not but,

    Thanks man!

    Or should I say Arigato Sensei:]

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