Last year we somehow stumbled across an advertisement for Hindi lessons at the local temple. (It is on the end of our block.) All four of us went to the first round of classes and it was pretty fun. This year Shanna said she didn’t want to sit still every week and only Calli asked to enroll.
I find the study of Hindi to be stimulating in a way that few things have been. Having to memorize different letters and connect them to sounds that don’t exist in my language feels an order of magnitude different from studying languages with a similar alphabet (like Spanish). I’m not saying harder–I’m not sure if it is harder. But it feels different.
I studied Spanish in school–both high school and college. I am nothing near fluent. But the study of Hindi is teaching me that I have a significant vocabulary–my problem is verb conjugation. When the teacher asks us to create a sentence in Hindi to answer a question I always have a complete sentence in Spanish pop into my head and I have to consciously not say it. Wrong language. But having these little epiphanies over and over that I could probably actually go to South America and communicate fine after a month is pretty huge for me. I have lots of impostor syndrome. I think I am stupid and incapable of learning many things. Then I find out that I ALREADY KNOW THINGS!!!
It is hard to explain how exciting this feels. On one hand, people regularly tell me I am intimidating because I am smart/educated. On the other hand, I feel like I’m not talented nor smart nor educated because I know people who have gone way deeper into almost any topic than I have. I’m good at viewing things in the way that makes me look bad.
Hindi is causing me to feel pride in my ability to learn in a way that few things have. For one thing: I’m turning around and teaching Shanna once we get home. She is making progress as fast or faster than Calli and Calli is actually attending the class. It is like ASL only better. ASL was harder for me to feel pride in because Shanna picked it up at two or three times the rate I did and I always felt stupid and like I am too slow to be able to say what is happening in my mind. I just can’t make my hands go fast enough.
Hindi isn’t like this. I shouldn’t feel so much pride that I am picking up concepts faster than many of the 6-7-8 year old kids in the class.. but they are growing up in houses where this language is a daily occurrence. I do feel pride that I am managing to study on my own well enough that I am picking things up faster than people who are learning more about their native language. (They all speak English in most of their lives and Hindi almost exclusively at home based on what they say in class.)
I’m not competing with the kids. That’s not the point. But I have fairly clear proof that I am learning and I am not stupid. I’m progressing quickly. Having it be so crystal clear that I am learning is… it feels really good. I feel proud of myself.
Today we had kind of a weird class. Some of the teachers were ill so they combined levels 1, 2, 3, and 4. This meant that the class was too slow for half the people and way too fast for the other half. Ahhh group teaching. The teacher who teaching level 4 was disappointed in me that I couldn’t come up with a Hindi sentence describing what I will do on Halloween. Uhm, the only verb I know is “is”. I know colors. I can count. I’m on my way to knowing the alphabet. No… I don’t yet know how to say, “On October 31st we will dress up and go trick or treating.” Nope, don’t have that vocabulary yet. But I may work on it this week and write down the phonetic sentence and say it next week. Because she’d be thrilled I looked it up.
I find it strange that I feel so good about the positive affirmations from the teachers. Why do I care? They are strangers and it’s not like this is going on my permanent record. But I care.
Hindi requires a similar kind of discipline as training for the marathon. I have to show up consistently and do the study. Every single day. I have to train. I have to live my life as if attaining mastery of the language is a goal. Just like training for the marathon. I have to not skip runs because I feel whiny. I have to do it anyway or my body will not be ready on the crucial day. If I don’t study Hindi I won’t ever be able to go to India and study farming with people who have questionable English. I want it so bad I feel an ache in my bones.
I want to be able to talk to people in other countries about farming and incest. I’m kind of weird. I want to go meet people when I learn farming and build relationships and come back years later after they know me and trust me and then get their communities to talk to me about incest. I have a plan.
I feel grateful that some days I wake up and it doesn’t feel like I’m trapped in limbo. I’m on a journey. I’m not waiting for the future to happen to me. I’m living my future. I am doing what I always wanted to do. I am home schooling my children in security and love. I am learning languages so I can go learn from people who have entirely different life experiences than me. I am getting to enjoy the companionship and growth of my children such that I am truly getting to see a happy, healthy childhood up close. I am ridiculously blessed.
When I have conflicts with my kids and I feel very anxious about them it is important to keep in mind that I get along with them better than I’ve ever gotten along with anyone. That doesn’t mean it is always smooth sailing. I am pretty sure I will never have a relationship that is all smooth sailing. That doesn’t mean I should opt-out of relationships and it doesn’t mean I should try hard to keep people away from me.
Life is complicated. I’m grateful that this portion of my journey involves getting to engage in study that improves my sense of self esteem while also significantly furthering my life goals. Often those two aspects do not move in tandem. I am lucky.
Ok, now that I’ve done my Hindi for the day time to run. It’s a wonderfully easy Saturday. This is my shortest Saturday run until April. I should find joy in that. From here on out it gets harder.
Luckily, I can do it. I already have so I have no fear. The half marathon Thanksgiving weekend (my race is on Saturday) will be easy. My informalish goal is to manage a 11:50 or better pace. I was super close last time until mile 11 when my ankles seized. More stretching this training schedule. I’m also doing more weight lifting. Being stronger seems mandatory for more speed at this stage. And 26.2 miles just doesn’t sound that far any more. March will be here soon and I’ll run that far and be fine. It blows my mind.
I am more than I ever thought I could be.