aka fruitbats – incredible creatures flying through the night, tirelessly hunting for hopeful bounty. And the best part – they get to sleep all day. For the past two weeks in my new city, I have been surprisingly exhausted. My days are less long than back home, I sleep more than I have in years, and I still long to be a fruitbat and sleep through the sun-filled day. And I have been trying to understand why.
I remembered the other day that whenever I find myself in a new place, speaking a new language, it wears me out. The level of concentration it takes just to express the things that merely roll off your tongue back home, result in mental fatigue. I generally see myself as having several native tongues, and yet, my medical background is in french in its entirety. So to suddenly ask the same questions and explain the same concepts in English requires more energy than I had anticipated. Over time, without my noticing, french had replaced English as my language of relaxation, that language which requires the least amount of work.
Outside of medicine however, it still seems as though English holds the reigns. German is far behind, and although ultimately my real first language, it is now solely used in communication with family and in watching old movies. There is a certain nostalgia associated with it that english or french will never match. It is a part of my childhood self, a deep rhythm of my soul that cannot ever quite be replaced by any other words.
And the strangest phenomenon of being bi- or trilingual, being in tune with two or more languages from an early age, I don’t think in one particular language, rather in concepts. There isn’t so much an internal monologue that is one language rather than another, but a constant flow of images, concepts, ideas. Wordless ideas. And when it comes to expressing these concepts, it takes me a split second longer to reconnect the concept to a word, whichever language it may be in, because the concept has a life of its own. It is hard to explain, and I apologize if this isn’t completely coherent, but I have found other people who experience the same thing. They too have grown up with multiple languages and instead of having an intenal word monologue, it is an idea monologue, because the words aren’t intrinsically associated to any one word, but several.
Anyways, for the time being it’s all I can do to explain this. Now, back to being a Fledermaus.
“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”
― Ernest Hemingway