While there have been some ups and downs in my fitness training recently, I think all in all things are going well. My running is pain free, the climbing is getting better, and I’m losing weight. All good news. Hebrew study however has been disastrous. I go on short binges where I am diligent, and then I fall off the wagon. When I restart, I’ve forgotten so much that I have to retrace the same steps over again.
Why is it that I can be reasonably disciplined in my physical training, but not in my Hebrew study? Perhaps it is because Hebrew is much harder for me than working out. I’m no Ryan Hall, but I’ve been working out consistently for a number of years. Exercise isn’t work to me. I get true pleasure out of a run, even a bad run, and spending time at the climbing gym is like being a kid again. Honestly, I’d rather be working out than doing just about anything else. Languages, however, are a different story. I have moderate dyslexia which infringes on my ability to learn new languages. I’m also basically tone deaf, which also doesn’t help. It’s a challenge. To be half as good at a language as the average person I have to work twice as hard and when I get home from a long day at work, spending time with the Hebrew books is the last thing I want to do. Still, the study is important to me and I’ve got to knuckle down. To help get over the initial hurdle of getting the barebones understanding of Hebrew I’ve developed the loose outlines of a plan to take me through the early stages of learning the language.
First, I am going to develop a streak. When I started running in earnest a number of years ago one trick that kept me going, even though I sucked, and was terribly slow, was a running streak. If I told myself I had to run every day, then there was no excuse good enough to not run. As I make the slow recovery from a series of injuries, I’ve at least temporarily given up on running streaks, but the same principle of no excuse ever being good enough, could help me with Hebrew. If I must study Hebrew everyday, then there is never an excuse good enough to not study. When I was doing the running streak, the requirement was one mile, with Hebrew, I think I am going to make it fifteen minutes. Starting tomorrow morning, I am going to begin a streak of studying Hebrew for at least fifteen minutes everyday. It isn’t much, but it’s a start.
Second, I need to set bench marks. In running I’m proud when I hit double digit long runs, then thirty miles in a week, then fifty. One thousand in a year is a reason to celebrate, two thousand is even better. I need to do something similar with Hebrew. Record the time spent, and celebrate when I reach key goals like fifty or one hundred hours of study. As of today, I’ve spent about twenty five hours in Hebrew study. I am going to set the goal of reaching 100 hours of study by the start of the spring academic term, which, for convenience sake, I am going to peg to Monday, January 14th. That’s nineteen weeks from now, so I’ll have to average about four hours of study per week, or twelve hours a month. That’s more than fifteen minutes a day, but with some longer sessions thrown in it is doable. I’ll need to remind myself of this the next time I want to watch a Giants game instead of getting in the studying.
Come the spring term, it’ll be time to take this up a notch and start learning in a more academic environment, most likely Hebrew I at my alma mater, Brooklyn College. For now, let’s see how fifteen minutes a day, and twelve hours a month, goes. Another exercise in getting better; another chance to prove that I’m not a slovenly, lazy, loser.