We are still learning Burmese.
Language is an emotional rollercoaster. I want it so badly. I can’t seem to grasp it some days, and it can make me angry or defeated or heartbroken. Other days it can make me feel like I’m on top of the world and can conquer anything. My brain can make sense of that today, and it couldn’t before? BOOM. I’ve got this.
Every thing you learn new, you realize the hundred more you can’t quite yet say. You see the ten mistakes you made in three sentences while you were just trying to say something simple. Or you realize the tiny portion of the song on the radio you can actually grasp. But then you chat with a friend and time goes by, and you hardly notice.
It’s so natural. And then all of the sudden its just so impossible.
I’m the most disorganized learner when it comes to language. I don’t have a record of notes. I have notebooks here and there, often unfinished, sometimes with loose themes at the beginning. (The themes are always lost by the end.)
Stephen is the most organized, driven learner I’ve ever encountered. He has found system after system to break himself down, conquer every weakness, and tackle every challenge. He has the biggest file of notes, all sorted perfectly. He has apps, audio files, books. (I will note, I have all these things. I just couldn’t find them at this very moment. Or the next few.)
Last week, we started lessons with a new teacher. Our teacher of five or six years recently returned to Burma (but showed up in my dream last night!).
Honestly, our new class was pretty discouraging. I could try to explain why, but I’ll just say she was very unimpressed. I just left broken, wondering if I’m saying any of the things I mean to and if we’re accomplishing near what I thought we were. I was in tears and wanted to throw in the towel.
The next day we had a bible study over tea with the jewelry ladies, and I followed along. I felt like I knew what we were talking about, could comment and join. We shared stories and perspectives. At the end, two of the Burmese ladies said I really knew a lot and was doing very well.
Rollercoaster, you see?
Language is also a bit like a Magic Eye. Remember Magic Eye? Sometimes you look at it, and you see chaos: tiny little images, swirls. Nothing of significance. Overwhelming. Often frustrating.
But if you wait long enough, look hard enough, and give yourself a significant headache: you see something really beautiful.
(This is such a good analogy, I can’t even handle it. Wait, look, pounding headache; and there it is.)
But the cool thing about both language and Magic Eye is that you can also un-see it. (Not many things in life are like that; too many of us know.) I can step back from Burmese; I can choose to listen or not. I can choose to see swirls or statements.
And we’re still choosing every day, to study. Stephen still has his notes perfectly sorted, and I still have a few random pieces of paper on my desk of the new words Thida & my new teacher taught me this week.