Julia is a Hog

You might recall that Julia and I are going to Mexico as soon as we both hit a 365-day streak of Spanish lessons on DuoLingo.

It was an idea we had back near the end of July after she followed my lead and downloaded the DuoLingo app. We figured learning a language is hard and, if we stuck with it, we should reward ourselves.

A trip to Mexico where we could impress the locals with our Southern-twanged Spanish made sense, so on July 31 of this year, I announced that we’d be booking the trip next year on July 12th.

That was 347 days later.

As of this morning, we’ll be booking that trip in 333 days, on August 20, 2020

Now even if math isn’t your best subject, you’ve probably figured out that we're way behind schedule.

This morning, over a breakfast of bacon and eggs, I was reminded of a little parable I read in the book My Life & 1000 Houses by Mitch Stephen.

In it, he tells the story of deciding to build himself a house. (Literally by himself, doing the work piece-by-piece, and paying cash as he goes).

On the day he poured the slab, he was feeling overwhelmed, as if he would never finish. Standing there with his dad, looking at the fresh concrete, he wondered aloud if he would ever be able to complete the house.

“Of course you will,” his dad said, “you’re the hog.”


“Son, at breakfast, did you ever consider the difference between the hog and the chicken?”


“The difference is this, son: the chicken is involved, but the hog is committed.

Today, you’re the hog.”

He meant, of course, that with the foundation poured he was committed to the project and had no choice other than to finish.


That’s been Julia with learning Spanish. She’s got one or two other apps besides DuoLingo installed, she’s put little sticky notes on objects all over the house with the Spanish word for that object, and she’s got a notebook she carries around with notes about her lessons.

She’s even reading the Spanish translation of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

Her streak stands somewhere around 130 days.

My streak stands at a measly 32 days.

Julia’s been the hog, and all the while I’ve been playing chicken.