Learning a new language is revealing.
It reveals plasticity — or lack thereof — in one’s brain and how crucial it is to listen.
Being a voracious reader all my life, I found learning the written aspect of language far easier than the spoken aspect.
It’s frustrating to realize the mental capacity to hear-process-formulate-a-response and speak-the-response is far more difficult than simply (?) reading the dialog.
I have to believe there are neural networks to be made in my brain whose roadbed has been smoothed and the spoken-language-asphalt is warmed up and ready to be applied.
Taking the analogy of road building even further I realize, too, it’s the constant pressure of travel on those roadways that keep the road visible and viable.
Abandonment of the road allows cracks to form and weeds to grow through the cracks to a point where the nascent road is obliterated.
Consistent use of a pathway, a skill, keeps the road intact; lack of use renders it useless as surely as a bulldozer.
So the question arises, how does one build a viable enough road in such a way that it is a pleasure on which to travel? Because it is surely pleasure that keeps us traveling on that path and not avoiding it.
Unknowingly I’ve done some pleasant travel on those roads by reading children’s books in Spanish. Children’s books are far more sophisticated in topics than they were in my early years. Social topics are dealt with by the cute illustrated ositos (little bears) that are the companions of los muchachos y muchachas (little boys and girls).
It’s not only a language adventure reading these books, it is a trip to another planet in the way the writers deal with gender and relationship issues. I applaud their facility to handle such complex ideas.
And I digress.
My conclusion: learning any skill (a new language, a new social media tactic, doing a Facebook Live event) offers opportunities to build new roads and meet new travelers, but to continue to refine the smoothness and pleasure of traveling that road by way of its continued use.
A new skill is scary to learn – sometimes even dangerous: I have scars from my stumbles on rough asphalt during training for races. But gaining the skill to navigate the potholes is always worth the trouble in the long run.