Looking back on this year, I've learned quite a lot. And that's the point of this project, after all, isn't it? Setting out to learn a new language fluently in one year may not make me the most aggressive language learner, or the biggest, coolest polyglot on the block, but it is quite clearly a commitment to learn a lot in one year.
Since this is a language blog, I'll start by talking about language. Certainly, it can be said that I learned Italian. I learned to understand Italian, to speak Italian, and even to think Italian.
In fact, I've learned to love Italian. This language has an indescribable beauty that can really only be understood when you learn the language. When you understand the musical syllables coming into your ears, and when you feel the Italian attitude actually start to twist the shape of your mouth as you speak.
But I didn't only learn Italian. I also learned a lot of Lithuanian. And I plan to continue to learn more. Not only because it connects me to my roots, but also because it's a fascinating language — the oldest living language in all of Europe — and it pleases my ear.
I've also learned more than I ever needed to know about constructed languages, and especially one in particular. I've discovered that a language can be a religion, a stepping stone, a tool, or even a statistic for those to whom "being a polyglot" is a life goal.
And with regard to such people, I've learned that the number of people in this world who are willing to invest time into learning something they'll never use is almost as high as the number of people who actually would use it, but will never invest the time in learning.
This being the end of my first year as a blogger, I've also learned about more than just languages. I've learned that blogging is harder than it looks, and doing it regularly takes more time and energy than most people realize. A lot of blogs come and go, and very few last for even one year.
Reaching this point didn't just happen for me without an incredible investment of time and energy. In fact, I can tell you without a doubt that I've spent far more hours working on this blog than I've spent working on my Italian. But the reward has been equally great, or perhaps even greater.
Simply having this blog has profoundly changed my life. Even at the end of my first year, I still can't believe that there are actually people who are interested in what I say. And not just interested, some of you actually think it's... (gulp).... good. That's truly humbling.
I recently completed travels to all 48 of the continental United States, and during those travels, it has been my honor and privelege to meet with several of you, my readers. And doing so has made this a much more personal experience for me. I'm not just writing nice words to a group of names and icons on my computer, I'm giving advice to friends, people with whom I've shared a dinner, a beer, a coffee, a train ride, and even a kiss or two.
I've seen your SMS message after you realized that today's post was about you. I've walked a mile in your shoes... and danced in them, too. I've been to the museum with you, and ice skated with you. I've stood next to you under a giant Christmas tree, and in a dance studio, and on an aircraft carrier.
You've welcomed me to your cities. You've shared a beer with me on my birthday. You've shaken my hand at the restaurant, you've hugged me at the airport, and you've shown me that 50 endless nights talking for hours over Skype can never compare to one rainy night holding hands and talking face-to-face.
Happy holidays to all of you.
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