Thursday, July 31, 2014

crystal is muddy

Sweet Lord have mercy, I thought, Have I forgotten how to add fractions?
I sat in the back of a high school classroom, shadowing the class.
As the teacher put up problems on the board, I found myself following the class' movements through the equations.
I surreptitiously scratched out the equation on a piece of scrap paper. I feel certain that the students knew that these terrifying mathematical symbols were my Waterloo. I was glad I was at the back of the room. I could spare them the sight of a college graduate being beaten by basic elementary math.
I looked at these strange beasts known as fractions.
And my conscious mind had no clue what to do with them.
It bucked, like a nervy stallion, at these unfamiliar and foreign objects.
Numbers.
What am I supposed to do with them again?
Rhyme them. Maybe I'm supposed to rhyme them?
How do these work?
4/5.
Does this symbolize something...or...?
Does dividing 4/5 by 3/4 evoke a particular feeling? 
How am I supposed to deeply enter into the mystery of 4/5?
It is sad how one cannot pursue all the academic disciplines all at once.
And as my mind learns how to think like a theologian and a thespian, it has set aside, at least for a year or two, a mathematical mode of thinking.
But, almost in spite of myself, when presented with a problem, my quieter unconscious mind knew what to do.
Its reaction to these fractional horrors was essentially a reflex.
Before I knew what was happening, the dormant mathematician in my head had already elegantly untangled the web of numbers in front of me.
I stared at the page in front of me in wonder, in awe.
Here, on this white sheet of paper was a stream of numbers that had flown together, through the application of reason.
Before, they had been a puzzle, a jumble of numbers that desperately needed detangling.
Then, once one put one's mind to it, the numbers arranged themselves elegantly, dancing over the page into an ordered, sound, and valid equation.
The sensation of working that equation was intoxicating.
Mathematics, I discovered in that moment, presents horizons of unparalleled exhilaration.

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