Thursday, February 20, 2014

I really regret not studying Chinese sooner!

I had an interesting conversation with a Westerner over a cup of coffee the other day. He has been living in Hong Kong for over 5 years, and barely speaks a word of either Cantonese or Mandarin.

The conversation went something like this …

   Him:  I really regret not studying Chinese sooner.
   Me:  You really regret it?
   Him:  Sure! I have missed out on so much of HK because I don't speak any Cantonese, nor do I read any Chinese characters.
   Me:  And if you had?
   Him:  If I had started years ago, then I would be pretty damn good by now!
   Me:  So you really regret it?
   Him:  Yes, so much!
   Me:  So much? It really bothers you?
   Him:  I think about it all the time, I just wish I had started when I arrived in HK. I would do anything to change that.
   Me:  OK, but you can't change the past. You can however do something now.
   Him:  What?
   Me:  You can do something now.  Today.  Why don't you begin today?
   Him:  Today?
   Me:  Sure. You can't change the past - but in 2 years time, you don't want to find yourself saying "I wish you had started 2 years ago …"   So begin now.
   Him:  Well, I'm not sure I'm prepared to put in all that effort now.

   Me (thinking, but not saying it out loud):  OK, so you don't really regret it. If it bothered you that much, even though you can't change the past, you would certainly change the future by beginning now.

Do  you find yourself in this situation?
  • You wish you had started studying Chinese earlier, and haven't really started yet? 
  • You realise that if you had been using flashcards then your vocab would be much bigger now, but you still aren't using flashards? 
  • You regret not having learned at least a few hundred of the simplest Chinese characters, and you're not currently trying to learn any of them?
Please - don't regret what you haven't done. Don't wish you had made different decisions. You can't change the past. But you can do things differently now. Decide what you wish you had done, and do it now. It doesn't matter that you might have lost days, months or years - because at least if you begin now then it will prevent lost days becoming months, lost months becoming years, or lost years becoming … never.

Aside:  Just in case you decide to actually do something today, here are some links that might help: