“Every moment gives us a chance to become more than what we are.”
I know it’s geeky taking inspiration from a video game, but still. I try to put it into practice whenever possible. It usually involves reading. I have a fiery, unbridled passion for books. I always bring something with me to read, and not just because I’m an introverted loner. If I stumble across something interesting on Wikipedia, I’ll spend hours learning everything I can about it. If I took my entire library out of storage and stacked every book in my room, it’d probably cover at least a couple of walls from floor to ceiling. I don’t have Angry Birds on my iPod; I have encyclopedias, translation guides, and access to pretty much every public domain text out there. Open Culture and Stanza (before it went defunct, at least) have been instrumental in turning my device into a portable learning tool and reference desk.
However, not everything can be learned from just reading. Take languages, for example. I’m sure I’m not the only one here who had to learn a foreign language at some point. It was a requirement for my bachelor’s degree. I chose Spanish because hey, I’m in California. People were speaking Spanish here before the state even existed. It’s going to be even more important in the country’s future. Learning accents and verb conjugations has always been easy for me, but it wasn’t just because of reading and memorizing text. It was because I practiced. Language is like a sword; when it’s not used or properly maintained, it gets rusty. The same goes with any skill. I incorporated the vocabulary into my normal routine, and I challenged myself to go through the day without speaking English. More importantly, I spoke to other people – and not just my professor – in Spanish. You’d be surprised how effective it can be.
My preferred style is a combination of distanced observation and hands-on interaction. I’m no super-detective like Sherlock Holmes, but sit me in a room and I can make detailed descriptions and conjecture about pretty much everything. For years, I worked in the customer service industry when things were still done the old-fashioned way: face-to-face with an actual, physical person. Yeah, remember that? So quaint. It taught me how to read people’s faces, vocal tones, and other little nuances in a conversation’s subtext. Whenever I review a video game or a book, I always approach it from an analytical standpoint, so much so that I need to remind myself to have fun. You can get a whole new level of enjoyment out of something if apply what you’ve learned; anyone well-versed in Jungian psychology will get a kick out of how Persona 4 plays out. If I can’t figure something out by just observing it, I’ll try to handle it myself. Yeah, I was the kid taking clocks apart and mixing paints together. It may have been messy, but it was worth it.
It still is. Thanks, Ryu.