So, a couple of days ago I was doing Irish, and I took a wild hair. (At least, A says it was Irish, because it was morning sessions; Irish is in the morning, German is in the afternoon. Japanese in the evenings. Anyway.) I made some comment on Twitter as a note to self that I did not need to translate the Four Important Questions from Babylon 5 into whichever language it was. Because I am a giant geek and my first instinct when learning a new phrase in a new language is to go “Oh, I could use that for this geeky purpose!” But I try not to give into all my impulses because then I would spend the rest of the month trying to translate the Dark is Rising poems and never make it to the next chapter.
But of course I made the mistake of saying this on Twitter, which led to the immediate response of “of course you do!” Oops.
A took the ones she knows, as our languages overlap quite a bit. I took the rest of them.
Кто вы? Что хотите? Почему вы здесь? Где вы идти?
Cé he tusa? Cad a teastaíonn uait? Cen fáth atá tú anseo? Cá bhfuil tú ag dul?
The questions, as those familiar with Babylon 5 may well have guessed by now, are “Who are you?” “What do you want?” “Why are you here?” and “Where are you going?” It’s anyone’s guess how good a translation I did on most of them, particularly the Japanese; there are cultural nuances that don’t translate well between, really, any language, and I found it especially difficult to get the semantics across. But they’re important questions, both within the show and without.
Raised by hippies jokes aside, I had a somewhat different childhood. Due to some less than ideal causes, I wound up with a number of mental and emotional tools I’d picked up from various places (co-counseling, summer camp, Montessori school, bilingual elementary school, there was a lot of learning going on). I didn’t realize what I had done or what I’d learned until the last ten years or so. And I definitely didn’t figure out how to put it into words until about four years ago, when two friends and I decided we were fed up with stressing over what our lives had become. i.e. Not what we wanted at all.
So we sat down and we formed a plan. Actually we formed a little support group. We called it Courtesan School, because that was the sort of thing we liked (and for those who like that sort of thing, well, that is the sort of thing they like) and we figured, okay, there are a bunch of things about our lives that we’re unhappy about. So how do we fix them?
It came back to these questions. In one way or another. In order to figure out who and what we wanted to be, we had to figure out who we were to begin with. Who we were when we were at our best, and who we were the rest of the time. We had to figure out what we wanted and, as we know from Babylon 5 (and other places, of course) that getting what you want can get you ass-deep in trouble, we had to figure out what we were willing to do to get what we wanted, or even if it was what we wanted to begin with. Then we had to reverse engineer and figure out why we were there. How we’d gotten to that point. Why were we at this point in this particular time in our lives, where was ‘here’, even. And of course, where were we going.
Courtesan School is a process. There isn’t really a graduation that we set out for ourselves, just a point at which we realized we’d integrated its tactics and techniques (cheerfully thieved from, you know, every-damn-where) into our daily lives and were using them to achieve goals and hurdle obstacles. It’s a simple process. What are we aiming for, what’s stopped us if we’ve tried it in the past, how do we fix it. Repeat as needed till goals achieved. And other important things to remind each other of along the way, like, it’s okay to have setbacks. It’s okay to have a bad day. It’s okay to feel angry, to feel sad, to feel like nothing is going anywhere and you’re going to be fat/dumb/lazy/bitchy/whatever the rest of your life. It’s okay. They’re just your feelings. And your fellow baby/apprentice/Courtesans are there to help. A bad day doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Feeling lazy or tired or angry doesn’t mean you’re that all the time. Every week, we check in with each other to make sure we’re on the right track, where ‘right’ is defined as ‘the one we want to be on.’ So, every week, we ask ourselves the questions again. Who are you, what do you want, why are you here, where are you going.