A New Language, A New World
I have decided to slow down my learning to master the French language. Since I apply mindfulness to most of the elements in my life, why not to language?
Over the past few weeks, I realized that I was constantly in a hurry to speak the French language fluently. A bit of impatience had snuck in, dictating that the level I had reached was not good enough. Although I speak more than holiday-French – the average Dutchman loses me after two sentences – I was striving for perfection. I was looking for a typical French accent, for the capacity to converse thoughtlessly, and for the flawless application of an expression at the right moment …
If Not This Way, Then How?
You may recognize a pattern here: I’m a typical perfectionist. Usually I embrace my perfectionism because it brings me so much beauty. Striving for perfection also quickly shows its limits: do I still enjoy what I’m doing, or has it turned into a struggle? Enjoying something, for me, means a feeling of lightness, joy and flow. Struggle, however, stands for resistance, heaviness and trying to control things. As soon as I realized that the French language had become a struggle, the question arose: if not this way, then how?
Hypnotized By Words
The answer to that question appeared where I did not expect it. I have started to read Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth (as I mentioned before), where I suddenly came across the following quote:
“Words, no matter whether they are vocalized and made into sounds or remain unspoken as thoughts, can cast an almost hypnotic spell on you. You easily lose yourself in them, become hypnotized into implicitly believing that when you have attached a word to something, you know what it is. The fact is: You don’t know what it is. You have only covered up the mystery with a label.”
(Tolle 2016: 25)
The Mystery Without A Label
I am living in a new world.
Where I used to devour the French language, rushing to discover and decipher word after word, I am now ruminating. I listen to the sound and to the vocals in the course of the sentences. I’m discovering how incredibly different the French pronounce one and the same word. What I enjoy most now: not knowing. Not knowing a word, echoing the sound in my mind, and pondering its meaning. The mystery without a label. Where does it come from, what does it look like, where does it lead?
I have moved to a country where I do not yet fully manage the language and that feels like a luxury. I feel like an explorer and an inventor at the same time!
Tolle, E. (2016). A New Earth – Create A Better Life. Great Britain: Penguin Books.
A similar blog post was published on urbanchicks.nl [NL]