Thursday, 5 February 2015

Cùm a' dol. Keep going.

We all get them. Down Days. 'Bad Gaelic' days. Days that we are tempted to jack it all in. Nothing seems to stick, it all just seems so futile.

We look around and all we see are people who are better than us. Brighter than us. More accepted than us. Better Gaelic than us. More confident than us. Gees, it's a rubbish feeling.

Well, I've just met a very inspiring man called Paul. He doesn't speak a word of Gaelic. He's a professional I've been to see about memory loss, and I want to tell you what he said to me.

I'm 45 years old and concerned that as the Gaelic fills up my brain, other things drop out of it. You know the kind of thing; remembering where I put my wallet, where I put my phone, and so on. I've even gone to work and forgotten to pick up my bag containing wallet, security badge, season ticket...everything.

'Am I bright enough to do this, Paul?' I asked. I left school at 17 and I've never done a degree or anything like that.

It turns out that Paul left school at 13 with no qualifications. Now, at an age that I'd peg a year or two older than me, he has done two master's degrees and just completed a PHD. He did these while working full time and raising a family.

*WOW!* Big respect.

A few weeks ago I was listening to Iain Urchadan's 'Beag a Bheag' programme on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal. I love this programme. One of the features is 'Luchd-ionnsachaidh na seachdain' (Learner of the Week), and one such learner was a very, very inspiring young man from Spain called Marcel. This clever, dedicated chap had studied Gaelic purely using online resources for two years, and had just embarked upon An Cùrsa Comais at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.

However, to someone like me, such inspiring people only serve to show me just how useless I am. This guy had AMAZING Gaelic despite only learning for two years (the same as me) and by self-study and not with the help of courses and tutors like me. I'm not seeking sympathy, I'm just one of those people who feels a sense of admiration and respect towards the amazingly gifted high-fliers, yet they tend to make me feel pretty rubbish about my useless self.

Back to Paul, the man I saw to check out if I was bright enough to do this. You can almost guess what he said, can't you?

It turns out that there will ALWAYS be people more gifted and more talented than ourselves. That's just the way it is.

However, there is one way, and one way only, to get good at something academic. And funnily enough, it is nothing to do with intellect. No sir.

The one and only thing you need to acheive anything academic, and that includes learning a language, is nothing to do with possessing a brain the size of Inverness.

It is persistence.

Quite simply, you just have to keep going. That, my friends, is all you have to do.

Just. Keep. Going.

Cum a' dol.

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