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Dream: Got in my old chevy van, it was raining, the brakes don’t work very well. I turned left at the intersection, there were children walking in the road getting wet. Then just as I see a man fall off a cliff, the van goes off the road. I think: “I need a wrecker with a winch.”

Getting off your natural path happens because you lose touch with your center of gravity, your natural intelligence about something specific. You were given a mission, something to accomplish, a vision and talent to develop, something to love and care for, in yourself and in the world. But you can get off your path because you don’t believe in yourself. You can fall off a cliff so that you suddenly need “a wrecker with a winch.”

You have to take your desires and attractions seriously. You have to listen to your deeper self, the self that keeps wanting something you may not think you can have.

I was in love with language and languages from an early age. My heroic scholastic efforts didn’t bear fruit and I thought I wasn’t talented or smart enough in spite of earning the best possible marks. I didn’t realize the fault was in the limitations of the method, not in my abilities. But thinking that, I turned in another direction, art.

But language does something I can’t do with visual art, at least the way I do art — it goes into ideas and all their permutations in a way that helps me understand things better. Language helps me understand my life more deeply, helps me understand others, the human condition.

It helps me grapple with existence, develop a vision. And besides, it’s a music I’m made to play. My mind seems made of and for language, and not just English, but Language in its archetypal configurations, its dance, its song.

I think everyone carries a light in their own breast, a passion they were somehow born with, that remains the focal point of their life. Losing that, you can fall off a cliff.

That’s why I don’t care if I’m known as a writer. I only care to involve myself with language and its expressiveness because it feeds my soul. I found ways outside of classrooms to become fluent in at least one foreign language, but the path to that language had to be hacked through a jungle without a map. I learn a foreign language like a musician who can’t read music, like a dancer who imitates the moves.

Our education system forces a preconceived notion of how you must learn and attempts to force it on you, whether that way makes sense to you or not. But maybe your lackluster results are the system’s fault, not yours. I have a friend who had French instruction from childhood through college but couldn’t speak when she finally arrived in France.

That’s the rule not the exception, when it comes to foreign language instruction, at least.

So, here’s my point; if you love something, don’t be dissuaded. Don’t be intimidated by the experts. Base your life on what you love, on that light you can perceive inside you, keep it burning. If it goes out you may be calling for a wrecker with a wench.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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