I love learning a new language. My foray into French has been intellectually stimulating for me, and j’adore discussing the finer points of grammar, verb infinitives and conjugations, negations, and regional vocabulary. I want to dive in and dissect it all.

Today, however, I realized that I still can’t carry on a simple conversation in my new language. I’ve been gleefully soaking up the rules and neglecting the reason I took the class in the first place: to speak French. I’ll be woefully underequipped when my French uncle and cousins arrive this fall if I don’t refocus. It’s just that the details are so much fun.

Real power, I’m learning, is not found in focusing on the details by themselves. Instead, it comes from leveraging the details to accomplish the mission. I don’t think it will matter much that I can properly conjugate a verb if I can’t speak a sentence.

The details count. They really, really do. I believe that wholeheartedly. Just don’t get mired in them to the point that you forget why they’re there.

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