by Payton Downing
There’s two things I’m new at: language learning and beginning a retirement account. Funny enough, these two things have some striking parallels that are worth musing over for a moment:
Amusement One: Both need consistent inflow for anything substantial to happen. I’m sure your somewhat familiar with the retirement graph that shows a line that progressively get’s steeper and steeper as years go on. There’s not much growth in the former years because there is less to work with, but in good time, with consistent investment, the money compounds upon itself and increases at a quicker rate in the latter years. But if it’s only added to “a little here, a little there,” then it really doesn’t go far and you’ll be ill-equipped for the years down the line.
It’s almost been a year for us here in Asia Pacific and we’ve been learning language and culture full-time. The first few months there has been a lot of inflow with very little return. But as time goes on, still maintaining that steady inflow of study, we have been seeing more of that “compounding interest” principle at play. Just as much investment of time and energy is necessary, but it seems like it yields more and more as time goes on and we get more and more in return for what we put in.
Amusement two: Sometimes retirement accounts and language ability doesn’t preform as well as we would like. I’m pretty sure we actually lost a bit of money this last year with our retirement account. Though this happens, there is still overall progress in the life of the account (this is the norm anyway… nevermind the 2008 stock market crash). There are definitely those days were I think to myself, or even worse, whine to Grace (poor Grace), “Am I even making progress!?” On those days there’s a loss of everything I know of Bahasa and I can’t even string two words together. Those tend to be fairly quiet days, as though I were a mute… filled with pointing to things, miming, and doing my own version of sign language. Ok, that’s a little dramatic, but you get the picture– there’s regression. Those days are present, but thankfully fewer rather than many.
The parallels could go on, but I’m sure they’d get quite silly. So in the meantime we’ll be putting in that steady investment into learning language and culture. And rather than trusting time as the golden key to making progress, we must rather look to “God who gives the increase.”