We all climb for different reasons. One of my main motivations for climbing is challenge. I don’t always climb just to do my hardest route, but if I honestly look at my whole pie of climbing, I’m most motivated when I’m pushing my limits, and I find the greatest reward in completing those routes that were a battle for me.
Being here in Spain there are challenges happening in many spheres of my life, with videos, climbing and finally my ongoing attempt to learn a second language. Joe and I had been practicing more than ever before our arrival, followed by signing up for night classes and consistent studying in order to hopefully become 5.10 (I would even take 5.8+ at this point) Spanish speakers by the time we leave. For anyone who has tried to learn a second language, you know how satisfying it is to understand, be understood, and feel included in a once seemingly secret world.
Learning another language isn’t just about integrating to me. It’s about understanding a different way of looking at the world. When you learn another language you don’t just hear another word for the same thing, you hear a different approach to an object’s meaning. Sentence structures like “The bus missed me” instead of “I missed the bus” make for funny implications about a culture’s approach to a given situation. Nuances of a language tell its history and feelings about people, places, and actions. Even the names for simple nouns create an impression on a non-native speaker. One of my favorites so far is the word for homework; it’s called “deberes” in Spanish or your “must do’s”.
Learning another language somehow emphasizes what it’s like to be a foreigner. The process is about being misunderstood and wanting desperately to be heard. It’s about sometimes feeling ostracized and inadvertently left out. About letting go of your comfort zones to put yourself in a place where you’ll eventually learn more about yourself, your insecurities and shortcomings, and hopefully emerge a stronger more assured person who knows a little bit more about the world.
It’s easy to be critical about a new place when you are secure about the way you live your life. Taking a step back to reevaluate your own methods and questioning them is hard. Creating space for a different way of living is essential when you are in another culture. The understanding that there aren’t right ways to do things just different methods is time and travel’s greatest lesson.
My motivation for learning Spanish is simple. Not being able to communicate fully, feeling insecure about simple tasks throughout the day and being unable to do my social butterfly thing is a strange sensation for any person, especially myself who like most usually floats effortlessly throughout each day. Why I would want to make mundane actions of my life an added stress is a funny question to ask myself. It is clearly a question I don’t have the answer to yet. What I do know is that when the most simple interactions of life have been made challenging, and they are finally achieved the outcome feels much like the feeling after the completion of difficult route, just that much more rewarding.