Tad Perry has written, and provides on the internet, his "Quick and Dirty Guide to Japanese." I had printed this out, some time ago, and from time to time I give it a read. He has made an honest effort of sincerely developing a sequential and somewhat logical series of instructions.
If one were to make an effort, and persevere beyond a week or two, one might begin to grasp the monumental challenge of this second language, Nihon-go. For someone like myself, steeped in this second language up to my 'life in Japan' neck, any learning would help.
The reason I have brought this up is, all tasks, like losing weight, learning a second language, creating a new dynamic lifestyle, etc. feel monumental. All are theoretically attainable, yet all are monumental.
In my daily ruminations I love to imagine ambitious projects that will have two or more goals and lead me on to a long held objective. A Manga book on Japanese grammar, a videocast of film clips of life in Japan, ESL Video podcasting, some physical challenge that will also assure weight loss, are just some of the examples that dance through my head quite regularly.
This is a pattern of 'programing my life' with a great adventure and challenge, a methodology that has worked in the past. My walking the streets of Manhattan, My Japanese pilgrimage, My many art projects, becoming a parent, are all examples in which I have succeeded in achieving several goals simultaneously.
But something has changed at this stage in my life. It feels less and less likely that I can muster the enthusiasm. I am locked in stage one, planning. This may be due in part to the complexity of parenting. Maintaining the 'normalcy' of a household lends itself to stagnation and procrastination. I tend not to want to rock the boat. And too, there seems to be a still strong after-taste of my wife's suicide, that fundamental earthquake of the soul, which says, not all change is good.
I suppose too, there have been a long series of smaller revolutions in my life, long trips and experiments in alternative communities, which did not initiate the personal transformation I had imagined. There is a certain level of 'stick-in-the-mud-ism' in my life, that is both reassuring and frustratingly anchoring.
I would not mind the anchor, if I were more confident in this angst-filled pot I stew in. I am endlessly disquieted by voices of discontent, yet stifled from affirmative action. In sociopolitical parlance, I am on the welfare ticket of a decent job and so stymied from self-initiative. I lack strong enough motivation to jump to the next level.
I am in my own way. I am fat off the system while feeling the victim of my own inaction. A victim of my own smaller successes, I feel I am missing the full glory. I do not snap to attention when a sweet narrative prescribes a pragmatic solution.
Instead I languish in lazy distractions until time to act has past. I no longer trust my inner drill Sargent, nor the cajoling mother of compassion with her platter of promising sensuous delights. I belly up and whin like a 300 pound only-clild. Why can't I have everything without the added effort, without the risk, without the investment? Don't you just hate brats like that!
And so I sit in my soiled nappies wondering why I find myself so unappealing. I would need to be conscientious, to be ambitious in my goals, to model the behavior I prefer to preach. And... inevitably... be willing to risk and invest, to sacrifice some of this security I cling to.
To qualify as a grown-up, I will need to climb over the comforting confines of my crib, and venture out beyond the kitchen, into the land of suits and ties, sweat and toil, responsibility and commitment... Gulp!
Peering through the bars of this self inflicted wallowing, I see spring through a distant window. I somehow still trust myself, as I stack my toys against the sides in order to lift my chubby leg over the polished pine boarders of my creaking crib. This nerd might be ready to abandon the solace of this Blog infested computer for the scented air of actual life.
This fat kid is heading for the front door and won't stop until he is neck deep in the baptismal waters. The image is quintessentially planted in the fertile fields of imagination, next step is over the wall to freedom... Beyond the abstract to applied resolution. Glory hallelujah! He is arisen from the dead!