Jul 9, 2016


i've been on a lot of journeys, over the years.  one involved learning how to run. one involved learning portuguese. one involved learning to program, android specifically[1].  the journey i'm sort of on now is vocal -- i'm learning how to sing.

there was a point in the portuguese journey, and in the programming journey where i got to where i am now with singing.  that is, where you see that you're not as far along as you would like to get, where you're not sure what the end game is.  all you feel is that you're not where you want to be yet.  there is a moment that i remember well, when I was on a training run along the East River Park, rounding the eastern most point of Manhattan.  There's a building that stands at this point, just a further bit north of the amphitheater.  i had the thought that i didn't really know how to do a certain, fundamental thing in Android programming.[2]

this realization called into question two things.  one, why would anyone employ me to be an android developer since i didn't know this very basic thing.  and two, why i didn't spend more of my free time trying to get better at this thing.  i knew what i was afraid of, and what it would take (sort of) to get better at it.  why didn't i try to do this thing?  i didn't try to get better on my own.  and eventually, i did figure it out.

in my portuguese journey, it was when i went to talk to a portuguese professor, in my sophomore year of college, about what level portuguese she thought that i should take.  i had spent 3 months the previous summer in brazil, and felt that the experience had at least earned me some amount of ability to skip forward, to be in some higher level class than my course work, on paper, put me in.

the conversation did not go well. she could barely understand my portuguese, and i could barely understand what she was telling me.  she switched back to english and finally just said: look, i think you had better take the beginning grammar class with everyone else.

i took the beginning grammar class.  and then i took classes on portuguese literature. and i went back to brazil, and learned how to actually speak.

i am telling myself these stories to remind myself that learning, exploring, growing has never been easy.  that the process is never linear, that jumps in understanding and elucidation comes from hard work, and practice and immersion and continuing to show up.  to taking risks and trying new-ish things.

why did i do this to myself?  why did i push forward to find things out?  because i was curious.  what would it be like to be fluent in a foreign language?  what would it be like to be able to run fast? what would it be like if i could make software applications?  what would it be like if i could sing?

i still don't think i know.  i do know that
i am not where i want to be,
not yet.

[1] i've been delighted to discover that some computer skills, however, are universal
[2] i realized i didn't know how to make a custom view on Android, or even how to make a Java class from scratch (not over-ridding a super class)

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