When I can read “Le Monde”

It has been a long while since I’ve had to account for school terms in my life.  But this all changed in the middle of the year, when I decided that it was high time to tick one more thing off my bucket list – to learn French!  Despite my best intentions to get started, there was never enough time or enough energy and always something more important to do – sounds familiar?

When I finally decided to enrol in a class, I was pretty pleased with myself and quite excited to be making a start.   After the first couple of fun classes, though, it got tough!  I didn’t remember very much from my school years and frankly as soon as I learned something, it quickly vanished from my mind, like water seeping through a sieve!   But I persisted – turning up to class every week and doing my best to keep up with the homework even though it was getting tougher each week.  And before I knew it, the term was over and after a brief hesitation, I decided that I would continue on to the next level and next term.  It didn’t get easier and there was a much tougher teacher to deal with who didn’t take too well to “I don’t know” even if we said it in French!   At the end of each class, I and my fellow mature students, were exhausted and wondering if we would last the term!  The temptation to skip class was very strong, but somehow I resisted. Little by little, and maybe because of our teachers’ tough love, a few things were starting to make sense, to stick.  Doing homework was difficult on many levels – the work itself (I know high school students will be laughing at this!), but also the discipline of it all!  I had to make time for it, and more importantly, learn to enjoy doing it, because after all … this is what I want to do!

And now, another term is looming and another decision – do I continue, or do I stop?  Do I want to keep going to class every week indefinitely and keep doing homework?  Do I have the discipline?  There is no doubt, that if I stop going to classes, all my effort, time and money so far, would be wasted – “use it or lose it” as they say!  The little I’ve managed to retain will disappear very quickly – and more importantly, I have just started getting into the flow of it all.

I appreciate these deliberations seem trivial and insignificant.  However, if you scratch a little beneath the surface, this kind of dilemma is one that comes up often in life – the temptation to give up when things get tougher, or to become complacent, thinking we’ve done enough.  And it’s not dissimilar to the dilemma or hesitation, many clients face, once the initial SMT program is completed.  This initial program provides the basics, a taste of what can be achieved.  The consolidation and reinforcement of this learning continues with maintenance.   This has a powerful ‘accumulative’ effect that offers more permanency – the more you do it, the more likely you are to stay with it for the long term and on your own.  If one wants to learn how to play guitar, or to swim, or learn a language, one or two terms is not going to do it.  You have to keep turning up to classes, do your homework and practice, practice, practice.  SMT is no different – it is still training, albeit of a different, non effortless type, with the aim of achieving natural calmness and ease of mind.  We know it can be tough at times, which is why the personal attention and support from the teacher is invaluable in helping you stick at it.   And if you have put in the effort, time and money to get to the first step, why give up before you have truly ‘got it’?  Isn’t that what you wanted to begin with?

Somebody told me that after two continuous years of classes, I will be able to read the French newspaper – “Le Monde” I’d like to think!  So I’m persisting – because I’ve always wanted to speak French if not fluently then competently!  And maybe one day, I’ll get to live amongst the locals and speak their language …at least for a little while!   And so I encourage you also, to stay with it – persist with your SMT classes, turn up, practice and sooner or later, you’ll be fluent in calm!

© Lucy Louca, October 2014

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