After some deliberation, I've decided to enroll in a Japanese class at the local community college.
I have to admit, with a little embarrassment, that it was the latest Jackie Chan movie that sparked my recent interest. As the end credits were rolling, I found my attention transfixed to the screen, fascinated, trying to pick out as many Chinese characters as I could recognize, and feeling a little thrill at each one I knew. I don't know what it is, but I find an inexplicable pleasure in seeing, understanding and painting the characters.
So I was excited to see that the local community college offers a Japanese class. It's not too common, really... not many colleges have a Japanese program. Furthermore, the class is offered in the afternoon, at a convenient time for me. And, being the community college, it isn't very expensive. Opportunity wide open!
Yet I had to stop and ask myself, why do I want to learn Japanese? Do I really want to put in the time and effort to do this? Will my interest wear off after a few weeks, and will I then find the class a chore? Am I going to start something I won't finish?
I've studied a bit of Spanish. I did the Pimsleur course, worked through a textbook, and attempted to read books in Spanish. I've studied a bit of German. Worked through the Pimsleur course, went to Germany with some friends, and at least managed to be able to follow directions and to say a few basic phrases. I'm not fluent in either. I'm convinced that the only way to truly become fluent in a foreign language is through total immersion. You have to live there — I'm thinking, at least a year. Now, I don't really have any particular desire to go live in Japan, and I have no illusions whatsoever that I'll ever be fluent in Japanese. So, why take the class?
It is somewhat interesting, or perhaps coincidental, that my husband's nephew recently got stationed in Japan, at the Yokota Air Base near Tokyo. Although, language isn't really his thing, and I don't particularly envision myself trying to have a conversation with him in Japanese.
But what it came down to is this: I love learning. There's a certain joy in discovering and accomplishing new things. I love exercising and challenging my mind. I enjoy language. And as I mentioned above, I particularly enjoy writing and painting the Japanese script and kanji characters. I can't say if knowing a little bit of Japanese will ever turn out to be particularly useful. But I do know that the ability to learn, and the joy of learning, is gift from God. And I know that it pleases God when we take delight in the gifts He has given us. Author Randy Alcorn, in his book entitled "Heaven", writes: "...we shouldn't ignore or minimize God's lavish, creative gifts, but we should enjoy them and express heartfelt gratitude to God for all of life's joys. When we do this, instead of these things drawing us from God, they draw us to God." So I figure, if it adds just a little more joy and little more pleasure to my life, and in so doing enhances my relationship with my Creator, then that in itself makes it all worthwhile.