Wishful Thinking

5th post for #bloganuary (a WordPress event).

The Prompt: What is something you wish you knew how to do?

There are quite a few ways to take this question. One approach is a ‘genie in a bottle wishing’ fantasy. Another would be the classic ‘if you could have any superpower…’ question. I’m not adverse to taking things in unintentional directions, but I’m in the mood to take this one at face value. Essentially, “What is a skill that I would like to have”. I’m avoiding the word wish in my reframing because wishes should never be wasted on the attainable (which in theory any skill is with the proper effort).

With that settled, let’s get to answering the question. Most of all, if I could pick up any skill, it would be Chinese Language Fluency. I’ve been learning Chinese now for over twenty-five years and I’m still at best at an intermediate level for oral conversation and totally incompetent for reading/writing.

To be fair I’ve never studied Chinese in an educational setting. It’s always been through life here on the ground. I first moved to Shanghai in 1996 and over the past 25+ years I’ve spent more then half of my time living and working in China. My wife is local and her parents have lived with us most of our marriage so I’ve picked up the Shanghainese dialect more so then the official language of Mandarin, but my vocabulary is still quite limited in both. I would love to be able to communicate more fluently with my family and work colleagues. Imagine only being able to speak with your life-partner at a 3rd grade level. Yah. Not ideal (although I’ve strategically used the language barrier at times to cover my just being an insensitive ass sometimes so it does have its advantages at times).

If I were to be playing the genie fantasy game I would wish for fluency in all worldwide languages. There is nothing more powerful than connecting with others in their native language.

Be well,



  1. CarolCooks2 says:

    Here the word for foreigners is ” Farang” not always said in a derogative way but we would not refer to someone as that foreigner but by their given name maybe it is an Asian thing for foreigners? Good responses to the prompt 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Monty Vern says:

      Thanks Carol. Yes, I’ve heard the term Farang before in east Asia. Appreciate your read and comment. 🙂


  2. Oh yeah, it’s always amazing to be able to connect with different cultures directly through their language. Here in Malaysia, i find myself switching between English, Malay, and Chinese (even Mandarin or Cantonese makes a difference among the Chinese) to get better rapport with that person, and it really helps.

    But I’m half Chinese and I can’t read it for nuts, and I’ve tried self-learning it. While I’ve reached HSK level 3, it’s still less than primary school ability, lol, so I appreciate your challenges in learning the language. Am also intrigued by Carol’s farang word, as I was exposed to that a lot during my stay in Thailand (apparently it’s only reserved for Caucasians and not Asian-looking people like me, even though I was a foreigner too). And just to add, here in Malaysia we use the terms gwailo in Cantonese and Mat Salleh in Malay, lol.

    Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Monty Vern says:

      I didn’t realize you were in Malaysia. What a lovely cultural environment there. I visited for work a few years back and did some consumer understanding and I was amazed at how harmonious things seemed (as compared to the situation in the US).

      Yeah, reading and writing characters is a challenge and requires some real effort over years. That’s why I had my kids attend Chinese school on the weekends growing up. I wanted them to be fluent to be able to fully connect with that side of the family. It kinda worked out for them. Haha.

      Thanks for your feedback and very interesting comment.

      Be well.


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