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The family tragedy I mentioned a few weeks ago was that my dad died. I’ll be going to his funeral on Friday. And these last few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster.

As you may imagine, my studies have suffered. I have tried to stay afloat in my sea of flashcards, but it has been a hard slog. Obviously my mind has been elsewhere. My heart has been elsewhere. And remembering words and kanji has come harder for me than usual.

What I’ve learned in the last few weeks is that you have to be nice to yourself about your pursuits when life (or death) intervenes. I am usually annoyed with myself when I stare at a word that I should know, that I have known and it just stares back at me like a stranger. I feel like I’m stupid, or succumbing to old age, or any number of ridiculous scenarios. It’s none of those things.

But it’s hard to approach studies without judgement. I am not used to showing up to my studies regardless of outcome. I want to show up and excel. I want to learn new words and not be stymied by them. And therein lies the problem every time. I want. I expect a certain outcome. And with learning a language—as with everything in life—each day is different. Each day is new. What I knew yesterday may not be what I know today or tomorrow. It’s ok to admit that today I cannot read a word. Tomorrow maybe it will have surfaced from the recesses of my overwhelmed brain.

It’s enough just to show up. Just to keep trying doing. Just to be here now breathing in and out. And not pressuring myself over where I should be. What I should know. And if I don’t get through everything I wanted to get through, fuck it.

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