This article should also be called, ‘Why I should learn from four year olds and retirees.’  Here are the reasons why:

  • They act like they have all the time in the world.
  • They like to have fun.
  • They don’t seem to care as they try new experiences.
  • They keep trying even if they make mistakes.
  • They try hard, play hard, laugh, and try again.

Okay, I went overboard with the generalizations.  I haven’t met every four year old and retiree, yet. 🙂  But last night I was inspired as my Japanese father-in-law pulled out the karaoke machine and busted out the new children’s songs CD’s he rush ordered for my oldest daughter.

My daughter in a karaoke trance. Talk about immersion. I picked up a few words, like どじょう, any fish of family Cobitidae. Oh, yeah.

My daughter loved it.  There were songs she knew by heart and songs that she kind of knew, but the hiragana lyrics underneath helped her out.  (Yep, she can read hiragana.)   She amazed us by the amount of songs she knew and sang.  Apparently, karaoke was a big hit because later on that night she was singing while sleeping.

My father-in-law must have been inspired, too because later on that night, he pulled out a DVD called NHK趣味悠々 楽しく弾こう! 大人のエレキギタ–Guitar playing for Adults.   This is a guitar instruction DVD focused for the senior set.   The instructor is in his early sixties and all the students don’t look a day below fifty.  Together, they break down the skills it takes to play in the style of The Ventures, an original surf rock band.   Does my father in law have a guitar?  No, but at 71, he’s ready to learn and wants to buy one.  You go dude!

Talk about life long learning. I love that there is a book dedicated to teaching seniors how to play The Ventures. But why wait until you retire to do what you want to do?

Not wanting to break the chain, I went to jamplay.com, a guitar lesson website and started looking around at lessons.  I’ve let go of playing guitar and didn’t even bring one to Japan this summer.   But who the heck cares.  I know I keep mentioning All Japanese All The Time all the time (intentional repetition), but following this site for years has really drilled the idea of allowing yourself to play and try 10,000 times instead of expecting to be perfect.   Khatzumoto explains that  most important part is showing up, not expecting greatness:

Adults have this competence fetish; they cling desperately to their dignity like a little boy to his security blanket; they want to be good at everything they do, and (they think) everyone expects them to be good at anything they do if they are to do it at all — adults are meant to be dignified and able; adults aren’t allowed to show ignorance or confusion. Well, forget that crap. Let go of your pride: you will suck at anything you are new at and little kids will be better than you. It’s okay, that’s how it’s supposed to be — those kids used to suck, too.

As I write, I can hear daughter squawking her way through Dango San Kyodai.   I hope to join in her in spirit through my samurai “All Guitar All the Time” experiment and really try to remember to act like a four year old or a retiree.  Hope you join me in whatever you currently suck at but what to make part of your life.