MISC // 01 JUNE 2023
A WORD FROM THE EDITOR
Speaking in a second language is a wild experience. The more you do it, the more it rewires your brain. This last year I’ve spent a majority of my airtime speaking Japanese. It has been such a joy to unlock new schemas through which I can view and then dissect the world around me.
Now, I don’t want to give you the wrong idea here. Yes, I can hold a conversation in Japanese, but my go to questions are: ‘what’s your favorite color?’ and ‘where is your hometown?’ Not super compelling dialogue. Luckily people like talking about themselves in any language, so simple questions work just fine.
However, there are times when I need to express my own thoughts to keep the conversation going. My response to a question will be similar, but not quite the same depending on if I’m answering in English or Japanese. I like to think of those differences in terms of camping. Expressing my ideas in English is like going car camping. Japanese is backpacking. For both I’m going to bring along my tent and sleeping bag, but when car camping I’ll bring some nonessentials as well.
Grammar is the food, and when I backpack you bet I’m dehydrating those sentences for maximum protein and minimum weight. Vocabulary is water, I bring enough to get by, but will also refill from other sources. Hedging is the cast iron pan of conversation. While it may be useful in some situations, it’s the first thing I’m going to ditch for hiking.
To put it simply, when I speak in Japanese I have to ask myself: ‘what is essential for me to communicate to get my feelings across to this person?’
It is a practice of tearing away the layers of doubt, worries, and expectations to get to the core meaning. Doing so has taught me to better communicate with someone I never expected, me.
At this point you may be thinking, ‘That’s lovely Alex, but what does any of this have to do with Butter?’ I hear you, just let me enjoy being able to car camp for a second.
It was actually a recent conversation with a friend that got me thinking along this path. We were chatting in Japanese when he asked me, “What is your dream?” Now, how the hell was I going to fit that answer into a backpack?
But, as I looked closer at my thoughts, I found that most of what I was trying to pack was cast iron pans. Ditching all that extra weight I found, as I usually do, that my answer was quite simple:
“I want to write. I want to share people’s stories. I want to make the world a place where everyone can find joy and feel loved. My dream is Butter.”
So, thank you for being here, reading Butter, and being a part of that dream. It is my hope that by coming together we can create something truly wonderful.
Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank Emma for all her hard work editing, Matt for lending his time and camera, Gregory for making it possible to kickstart merch and Patreon while I’m overseas, and last but not least, the athletes and photographers for their time and patience. You all make this crazy idea feel a little more possible. Thank you.
As always, take care and have fun out there.
<3 Alex Fig