Sunday, October 3, 2010

An Unreasonable Fear

     I was never very interested in math. I am educated, but willing to admit I have never seen the inside of a physics book. My unreasonable fear of statistics has stalled my two graduate degrees in midstream and soon I know I will have to do something about that. I am relying on my brainy 17 year old daughter to partner with me and save the day, in order to ensure my future. It is always a little amusing to me that as my mother made a satisfying lifetime career out of math, teaching countless young people algebra, geometry and trigonometry, in the same junior high and high schools that I attended, that I, quite intentionally, made an equally satisfying effort to avoid it.  I could not get very far into this discussion without admitting that as I grew older, regardless of my lack of interest in anything labeled "math", that my rabid and voracious interest in chemistry and medicine created a conflict.  Annoying as it is to admit, chemistry and medicine, appears to be related to, and rely quite heavily on math.  At 23 years old, with my first bachelors degree under my belt, I had to wake up and realize that in order to gather the education and knowledge and experience that I needed to become the healer that I knew I already was, that I had to gather up my fortitude, all of my emotional strength, suck it up and open the black algebra book lying around my parent's house and uh...attempt to learn it.  

     When my mother observed this, her first thoughts may have been something like these: " How come she did not open that book in the 9th grade when she was supposed to?" or " Better late than never " or "Maybe she should think about taking a remedial class".  A few years later I did take that "13th grade" math class at Columbus State Community College, mostly to prove to myself that I could do well in math, and partially to prove that regardless of how good I had become in chemistry, anatomy and physiology and despite my natural medical aptitude, math could still be excruciatingly uninteresting and remain imprinted upon my entire psyche as the irrational fear that I still hold tightly to today.  I am 50 years old, I am a healer, and I do not "heart" math!  Not "hearting" math leads me to also not "heart" physics and alongside that, not "hearting" statistics.  Unfortunately this also leads me to a daunting brick wall in front of my current vocational goals and calling, so I have become irritated.  

     Before  I go on whining about "not being good at" math, I should document here that I am in fact very good at a whole bunch of other things.  I have actually heard my mother point this out on many occasions so I know it must be true. One very cool thing about my mom and I is that we are both strong-minded women and neither of us really have any trouble pointing out the talents and shortfalls of the other.  My mom says she is envious of my creative artistic talents especially in the area of the home arts. Honestly I think she says that to be "motherly" but I think that she feels the same way about all of those disciplines as I do about math, physics and statistics.  I know my mom works just as hard to avoid a sewing needle or a complicated recipe, as I do algebra and geometry.  This kind of relationship is not easy to have.  Having to co-exist in the mother-daughter relationship for the first part of my life being cared for, and now seeing the scale about to tip in the other direction where I see it inevitable that I will take care of her, I have to admit that this was not ever a perfect or easy relational road.  I think my mother and I have gone through life believing that the other never listens or understands, and that each of us thinks that the other is somehow not as good as we might want the other to be.  Looking at my relationship to my mom realistically helps me face what I know is going to happen as time goes forward.  This is not a novel scenario, all of my peers are facing it now and all of hers are too.  Fortunately for me, at just some bit of time before age 80, my mom still "hearts" math, and fortunately for me, I do not.  I think this knowledge creates a parallel resonance for us. It simply works best. We both make faces at each other when we ask each other to make up the shortfall.  That is a bit silly since we both know we really have no choice but to apply our natural gifts and talents to whatever challenges come our way, after all we are both strong, intelligent women, and if we were each asked we would both say that successful life and family relies on achieving a "power factor of unity".  Each should act according to their own talents and a house divided falls. I believe that this is why my parents remain married and happy with one another after 50 plus years. I also know that my house has divided and fallen and at this tender moment my compass is pointing toward north and I am going home.


     For me this one thing is true: Living life successfully with the corner of my foundation missing is exhausting me. Being afraid to face the math is nowhere near as daunting as admitting that I was foolish for avoiding it in the first place. To go forward in my life, and to redesign and rebuild what I allowed to be invaded by a rover, a plunderer... (thank you Henry Miller, T of C for those original words) who built a fortress of dry sticks and a thatched hay roof around my carefully preserved homelife and laid waste to all but some smoldering embers with the cavalier toss of a single torch he carried, will require a whole new architectural plan.  This new building will be set on a solid foundation, with all four cornerstones firmly rooted and set in place.  

It is time I embraced and did the math. 


1 comment:

  1. I to have a fear of math - I cringed when I saw the math problems posted on your page!! Why is it that something that we use everyday can be so complicated yet so easy in other ways.

    I know that some math has to be scientific to solve the more complex things in life but for my simple little life - basic math is all I need right now.

    However, having a daughter who scored 400 out of 400 on her CMT's in math is remarkable. I worry that as she matures and the math problems get harder and harder I will no longer be able to help her! She is in the high math group as it is but so far I am able to help her if she gets stuck. The future I question. I am lucky though to be married to a man who excels at math so when the problem arises that I can no longer assist my daughter - she will just have to wait until "Daddy gets home".