The Secret to Everything
Before you brand me hyperbolic, I admit that the secret I am about to reveal will not breathe life into the garage door that suddenly and completely shut down yesterday afternoon. It will not magically disappear the dings in the car door, banish gray hairs, or materialize gold coins in our pockets. But it can provide the ticket to a flat belly, make you a great swing dancer, unlock the mysteries of becoming bilingual, and maybe even allow you to read your cat’s mind. It really is the Secret to learning anything and, even more importantly, to not losing the mastery you gain. So simple, even obvious; not mysterious, just elusive. Although I discovered this Secret for myself through life experience, it is a fundamental principle of how things work that has been around for all time.
In my years of teaching Spanish, I have heard many a student say, “I’m not good at languages” and too many people refer to that mysterious flair for learning foreign language as if it were some hit of linguistic angel dust flung at them. Or not. I actually do think I had a slight advantage for learning a foreign language because I grew up hearing one even though Dutch wasn’t remotely close to the language I (my mother, actually) decided I should study. And yes, I do see that some of us have more affinity for mathematics and others lean more towards language. But the bottom line is this: the only difference among people who set out to become bilingual is that the ones who persist, do; and the ones who stop, do. That’s not the kind of satisfyingly earth-shaking, life-changing, wave-the-magic-wand answer we all hope for, but it’s the truth. As my friend Tris said last week, “If spiritual progress were fast and easy, we’d all be enlightened by now, God would get bored, and the game would be over.” The same goes for—you name it—becoming bilingual, learning a musical instrument, getting in shape, painting a masterpiece (more on that in part II), and improving relationships. What to do is so very simple; doing it is where over 90% of us fall short. But don’t lose heart because now our shovel has struck the chest of buried treasure and we have only to dig a bit more to release it.