After listening to Benny talk about “hacking languages” and Harry fussing about one of my Chinese phrases, I wrote this quick Tao of language learning.“A good traveler has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving.” Laozi The Tao of language learning The language is like a forest, with trees, branches and leaves. These are the patterns, phrases and words of the language. If you are in a forest, stop to hear the branches move, listen to the rustling of the leaves, and observe them, quietly. Do not talk while you are observing the forest or you will miss something. If you are learning a language, listen to it, observe it, quietly, until you notice the patterns, phrases and words. Learn from listening and observing. Do not rely on teachers. Before you can speak, you must listen, and you must listen a lot, without resisting. Let the language come in you. Feel its essence, its rhythm and flow. Feel the power of the language, more and more, limitless in its ability to express the grandest or the most sublime meaning. At first you cannot discern the subtlety of the language, you do not hear, you do not notice. But you must continue, not resisting, but patiently waiting until the branches, twigs and leaves become clearer and clearer, until the language reveals itself to you. We are small compared to the forest, and small compared to the language. We are just visitors. We should be humble. If we devote ourselves to the language we will be rewarded. Do not be in a hurry or you will never reach your goal. Do not seek to hack the language. You cannot. Do not seek to master the language. It cannot be done. Do not fight the the language or it will defeat you. Just enjoy feeling its wisdom and expressive power grow, the power of ages. If you hurry you will be delayed. If you tarry you will reach your goal. You will know when you are ready to speak. There is no need to rush. If you are in a hurry to speak, a few days will seem too long. If you respect the language, three years will be too short. The fewer ambitions and fears you have, the sooner you will learn. Forget who you are and where you came from, the language does not care. Let the language penetrate your mind, constantly, in all of its variety and richness. Do not try to speak until you are ready. You will know when you are ready. The language will tell you. When you speak,take pride in the language and just let it come out. Only a vain fool strives for perfection. Whatever language you are learning, it is everywhere. You can find it without going outside your door. You can bring your language with you wherever you are. You do not need to ask others how you look. Don’t wait for others to correct you. Continue to learn with the intensity of a child at play. Accept what you have achieved and you will achieve more.