Thursday, April 05, 2012

Blog Guelph: The "Simple" Math

Lucky Number 34 by TheGiantVermin
Lucky Number 34, a photo by TheGiantVermin on Flickr.

When someone tells you that there is a “simple math” or equation that will solve your problems, do you believe them?

Does the complexity of our lives and emotions, or our cities and societies, really come down to a simplistic addition or subtraction? A multiplication or division?

I don’t believe that anything worth having is “simple,” easily calculated, or unambitiously won. In fact, I believe that things that are most valuable in life are those that are most complex, hardest to find, least calculable, and most ambitiously fought for.

It’s an oft-said mantra: there are no easy answers.

No easy math.

Love is one example. If there were a formula, wouldn’t we all be perfectly happy always?

Nature. If we really had the math, we’d never be wrong about the weather forecast. But we are. All the time.

Choice. The best and most profound example of our humanity is our ability to choose. And that choice is not formulaic. There is no ultimate set of mathematical parameters that dictates how we make the choices we do. That is what makes us special, rich, dynamic forces within our lives and in the lives of others.

It is freedom.

But I know people that are fundamentally calculating. Everyone does. They believe there is a math or science to everything in their lives; that they can win or gain by exacting numbers; that they can estimate and weigh and maneuver and strategize and conquer through cold calculations and leveraged facades. But these people are the ones that ultimately lose. Because they can’t see the beauty in their environment, they can’t understand love or nature or freedom. They only understand their bottom line.

And that is tragic.

Mathematics can explain some things some times. But it can’t explain most things most times. The important and the best things in life are the ones we don’t count on, the ones we could never have calculated.

So no, I won’t ever believe that there is a “simple math.”

~ Aidan M.D. Ware

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