Just Do It!

just do it

Monday January 16 2017. I climb into my car and drive against the chaos that is homecoming traffic, heading to Spanish class in Sea Point. School has just reopened after Christmas break. It’s the end of yet another glorious Cape Town summer day and holiday makers and residents alike, people the promenade in droves, determined to enjoy the last glow of sunlight as night beckons.

As I exit my vehicle and draw in a breath of intoxicating sea air, I am overcome with a sense of deja-vous. It strikes me that precisely a year ago, I parked here for the first time, and walked to the then unknown, now familiar, building to take my first Spanish class.

Why Spanish? you may well ask. (Well, that’s a story for another time. Suffice it to say it links me to my roots, to my gone-too-soon abuela  Isabel.) Learning this language has been a long-held dream and twelve months ago, I finally took my first steps to realizing it.

Back then, January 2016, I was a mere beginner.  Now, I am in a so-called “advanced” class. (Actually, honestly, I think it’s more like intermediate. – There are so many nuances in language that it would be arrogant of me to suggest I could fully “know” one is just a year.) Nevertheless, here I am. The sole survivor of that initial class of nine beginners.

Now,  as I enter the building where it first began, I am the same woman I was back then. I am still short, wear glasses, am a mother of four and a wife of one (thankfully). Same.. but different. Now there is a new language inside my brain.

My ears are attuned to previously unrecognizable sounds, new vocabulary, past, present and future tenses… In the interim, I have read books I would never have read,  watched beautiful movies I may never have watched, travelled to Spain, learned to cook authentic Valencian paella, learned to dance salsa.

Nowadays, I drive around with Spanish music playing in my car. My life has been enriched by meeting and engaging with new people. People of different ages, with different backgrounds, interests, with careers ranging from acting, to writing, to city transport planning. People whose paths, mine would never had crossed had I not taken those first tentative steps twelve months before.

In the interim, I have read books I would never have read,  watched beautiful movies I may never have watched, travelled to Spain, learned to cook authentic Valencian paella, learned to dance salsa. Nowadays, I drive around with Spanish music playing in my car.

My life has been enriched by meeting and engaging with new people. People of different ages, with different backgrounds, interests, with careers ranging from acting, to writing, to city transport planning. People whose paths, mine would never had crossed had I not taken those first tentative steps twelve months before.

My life has been enriched by meeting and engaging with new people. People of different ages, with different backgrounds, interests, with careers ranging from acting, to writing, to city transport planning. People whose paths, mine would never had crossed had I not taken those first tentative steps twelve months before.

Sure. It was daunting. I was a fifty-six year old who hadn’t studied formally in thirty years in a class of eager, bright-minded twenty somethings. While they could arrive at class straight from work or gym or a coffee date, I would have to ensure the washing machine was loaded and on, dinner (for 6) was cooked, and that any and all of my commitments as a mother, wife and daughter, were covered.

Then there was the matter of the aging brain. Would my well-worn grey matter still be limber enough for the task at hand?

To crown it all… language learning is tough, really tough. Tough enough to sift the fun-seekers from the intentional. Sure, it’s all a great deal of fun at first. Learning new names for EVERYTHING, practicing our new found vocabulary on each other, being exposed to a rich, vibrant culture.

But then, at some point between day one and the final exam, classmates start disappearing. First one, then another, until by the time we “graduated” beginner class, nine had become four. Of those four, three of us enrolled for the intermediate course, where we were joined by the survivors of another beginner class.

And then the whole pattern started again. Excitement at first. We could finally speak and write about things that took place in the past. But then, as the need for more complex sentence structure grew and list of irregular verbs increased, first one, then another classmate slipped away silently, until at the end of intermediate stage, our class of ten had dwindled to five.

Onto advanced class, and the pattern repeated itself. At the start, we of six (the remnants of three separate intermediate classes). Four remain. And somehow, incredibly, I am one of them.

And the thing of it is, aside from the perseverance, the mental stamina and the sheer pig-headedness that have gotten me to this point, I wouldn’t be here were it not for one thing: on January 15 2016 I took my first Spanish class.

What about you? Sure, maybe learning  a language will never make it onto your bucket list… But what about the dreams you dream? That mountain you’ve always wanted to climb? That choir you’ve always wanted to join? Maybe it’s something as lofty as studying for your Masters’ degree or as simple as swimming in the ocean? Perhaps it’s a book you have long put off reading? Or reconnecting with a family member you’ve lost with?

It doesn’t matter what the dream is. The question remains the same: Will it remain a fantasy castle in the air? Or will you bring your dream into reality? Yes, you. Because you are the only one who can.

January 2017 comes to an end this week. February is rushing in on us. My parting point is simply this…

Whatever it is you’ve been putting off doing; just get out there and DO IT.

Tick-tock.

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