Since I was a kid, I’ve had an on-and-off 1, morbid, intellectual fascination with suicide. I can remember being about seven years old, and asking an adult, probably one of my sisters, something along the lines of: “is it possible to kill yourself?”, and she went “yes, it’s called incest I mean suicide”.
And it really weirded me out. Not just her Freudian slip of an answer, but the very idea, that you could do something like that to yourself — because it’s not like you can give birth to yourself, right? It’s so computer sciencey. Like counting from 0. It’s like scoring an own-goal in soccer.
So I was reading about suicide again recently, and apparently (get this): people who attempt suicide multiple times are more successful. People who make more attempts are more likely to succeed.
If you think about it, that’s really inspiring.
Because it means that, ironically, even suicide, perhaps the greatest expression of sadness and despair possible, requires a positive, Babe Ruth homerun mindset. Even suicide requires you to keep showing up, keep learning, keep trying. It requires initiative and action — one doesn’t just sit around waiting for a Goth Prince Charming to “hook you up”. It requires research and trial and error to be pulled off successfully — indeed, apparently, most of the suicide methods commonly featured in movies and TV dramas are more likely to end in discomfort and injury than actual death.
People who are suicidal often have what are called ideations, where their thoughts are looping like a Shoutcast playlist, repeatedly imagining and role-playing the act, the prelude, the aftermath, in vivid detail.
Looked at this way, suicide starts to seem like drug addiction: It’s not failure. It’s success misdirected.
So, the moral of the story is: go snort cocaine and jump off a building, right?
So you want to learn — get used to — a language, right? Well, you’ve already done that before. You’ve already got the blueprint. In fact, you’re living the blueprint. You’re a champ at learning and reinforcing English. And you even learn new words like “metrosexual” and “MCD” 😛 . All you need do is switch English with Japanese. Do your English thing, just do it in the direction of Japanese.
And you’re like “but I’m good at English now and I suck at Japanese”. OK, maybe. But you can learn one Japanese word, right? I mean, anyone, any idiot, even the most provincial, crimson-naped individual in the world, could learn one Japanese word, right? There. You’re done. There’s your pattern. All you do is repeat the process of learning one word — do whatever you did to learn that word to another word, and Bob’s your uncle, pretty soon, you’re fooling people on the phone.
Bob isn’t my uncle, but…whatever.
The American military, perhaps the world’s best, is so good at killing people that it even kills its own people from time to time. It’s called friendly fire. Friendly fire happens because bullets work on whatever they’re directed at.
Similarly, environments, habits, associations (friends), ideation, imagination, initiative, repetition and persistence work on whatever they’re directed at. Whether you’re trying to kill yourself 2, enrich yourself, bed someone’s mom (perhaps your own, I don’t know; I don’t want to be judgmental here), or just make sounds with your throat 3 and symbols with your hands — i.e. use a human language.
Bullets work on whatever they’re directed at. Wherever we point our bullets is where they will go. Even with imperfect aim, with enough bulllets, we will eventually hit whatever we shoot at.
You are successful. You are a success. You are bloody marvellous 4. Already. At something. In some direction, your bullets are firing like gangbusters 5. And maybe it’s friendly fire, maybe you’re shooting at yourself, but bullets are still bullets, yo: they’re your bullets and you made them and they work, and in a twisted way, that’s always something to be proud of.
When I watch an HBO show and see, say, a crack addict, because all HBO shows have a crack addict, I don’t see a failure. I see a driven person. It’s just that she drove the wrong way. If she pounded kanji the way she pounds that crack cocaine…
Maybe you’re a successful couch potato, like me. Or a successful email checker, like me. Or a successful mom-joke-maker, like me. Any way you cut it, you have the pattern and the password. You already have the magic cookie cutter. All you need to do is aim that cutter in a new direction, and use it to cut some different dough.
Some Japanese dough.
PS: Stay alive 😛 .