Our brain doesn’t need to rest. When we sleep and cross into the dream world, the brain is reconstructing itself and becoming smarter. What we call rest, for the brain that translates into rewiring and producing complex and stronger structures that will allow us to continue the physical and intellectual journey the next day.
Learning new things keeps the brain active, and such activity continues (if we allow it) in the golden years, when the physical part becomes more challenging. Is in this moment when we need to find ways to stay in learning mode. It’s never too late to become a musician, a poet, a writer or a singer. As long as we fuel the passion for acquiring new skills, new trades, new moves…
The brain has a unique capability called neuroplasticity, which is the ability to change continuously throughout an individual’s life. For example, brain activity associated with a given function can be transferred to a different location, the proportion of grey matter can change, and synapses may strengthen or weaken over time.
We can learn something every day. But we have to seek for new knowledge. We need to move from “I’ll try” to “I will”, in order to keep our minds busy in productive thoughts. Such drive will take us to a better state in our older days… away from the risk of senility.
Let’s keep learning, keep the grey matter working!
I can help you learn Spanish, and you can help me learn something!
When I was in junior high, back in Acapulco, Mexico, a friend and I were sitting on the sidewalk talking about what the next prank was going to be. I don’t remember the details, but such idea soon changed because suddenly through the corner of my eye I saw an unidentified flying object (UFO) coming out of a moving car. It landed roughly a hundred yards from where we were plotting some childish joke.
As any young curious people would do, we rushed to see what the UFO was, which landed on the same side of the street where we were discussing our very important endeavour. It was a science-fiction book named The Foundation, by Isaac Asimov. The cover of the book was different back in 1983, and it was in English. My friend showed no interest in the book, so I decided to keep it because at the moment I was taking additional English classes to the ones from school, so I though I could eventually read it. Later, Isaac Asimov would write several Foundation books, and now you can have the entire collection, if you enjoy this kind of reading.
As time passed, I kept learning English but still could not comprehend the book. So I took on the goal of translating the book to Spanish, so I could read it. It was a daunting task considering that the book had almost 400 pages, with no images. So I bought a couple of dictionaries and used the typewriter and some paper at home and started typing.
Hold on… if you are 30 years old or younger you might have have not seen a typewriter. Such device was not kept at my parents’ house or mine, so I can’t take a picture of it, but I’ll give you an approximation of it with a cute picture of a vintage, emotionally charged fake typewriter that I got last year (it’s actually a bank).
Vintage typewriter, no electricity or Wi-Fi required
Also, if you did not use a typewriter, you should know that there was no “Delete” key to correct a mistake. If you made a mistake, that implied to start the page all over again, until a marvelous thing was created: liquid eraser, a white coating that covered the wrongly typed word and allowed to write on top of it (awful when used on non-white paper).
Fast-forwarding to 1988, at my last year of High School, and after five years and countless nights of typing, along with trying to decipher the idiomatic expressions in order to translate them in a way that made sense in Spanish, I was able to complete the task. A lot of effort went in it, and it allowed me to dive deep into the intricacies of translation. By the time I finished it there was no need to read it, because I became very familiar with the story both while translating the easy parts, as well as when trying to fill the gaps. At the end, the stack of paper that the book formed was higher than the typewriter (letter size).
In our current world, the typewriter can only be found in museums, or the basement or garage of highly sentimental people who like to hold on to these things. But I doubt they keep using it. New devices have taken over, so fast, so radically. Change is a wave so powerful that nobody can stop.
The rapid pace of change produces such an incredible tale of two realities. That from two o three decades ago, and the one from today. Stories like these seem themselves like science-fiction, but they’re not. Here’s today’s tale:
During the past few months I have translated two books from English to Spanish, and I’m on my way to finish the third one. Of course I’m leveraging the experience (gay hair) and the tools I didn’t have back then. I use the website Babelcube to find the books that I want to work on, and after a quick handshaking process I’m typing, proof-reading, editing, and submitting the work, without using a single sheet of paper, or liquid eraser. The best part is that I’ll get paid for, based on royalties. I like to plant seeds for the future…
Learning a new language is a challenge, but the reward is that a person who learns it becomes smarter. It wires the brain so the linguistic capabilities are sharp, ready for a new learning journey, and that goes beyond languages, because learning how to communicate in other tongue increases the curiosity about the countries that speak it, making the person’s appetite for knowledge grow bigger.
If there’s an opportunity to become bilingual or multilingual, any hurdles become part of exciting times that will pay big time in the long run. The opposite of this is when a couple in which the spouses speak different languages don’t push their children to communicate in both, for the sake of comfort. In my case I see the fact that my kids speak both English and Spanish as an advantage, for many reasons, one of them being that I won’t have to pay for additional classes in the future (that sounded cheap, but many of you will agree with me at some point).
Here’s one example of the benefits.
I found Babelcube, a publishing portal where author publish their books in their native language, and then you or me can offer to translate them to our own language, with a compensation model thru royalties. It’s pretty straightforward if you are committed to deadlines and can produce a high quality work. Translation is not easy, especially when it comes to convey the ideas in a way that makes sense in the translated piece. Translation tools are awful, and there’s no replacement for the human interpretation.
If you can translate, use the link above, it will be a great experience! I translated one book already, and I’m waiting for others to come. If you’re interested in it, it’s accesible in the next links.