So, I’ve had this “math fantasy” for a long time.
There you go-
Just when you thought you’ve heard every strange fantasy, comes a strange new one and opens your perspective.
The thing is, when I were in high school, I liked the cleanliness of math equations. the fact that there was a clear cut solution. (this is high school math, not higher levels where everything gets complicated).
I was fascinated by the fact that other than the necessary 3-4 sentences , there was absolutely no need to write a mini novel in exams, and that when you get the point- you can relax for a while- because the point wasn’t to cram as much information possible to your poor head, but getting the logic of it.
Mind you I wasn’t the brightest math student -far from it, but- I was on a mission to succeed, because that’s who I was (and continued to be until I became 50 and age became wisdom. well some wisdom , anyway).
So I got a good grade on my math SAT’s , but never crossed paths with the clean equations again.
Because I had never tested this ideal perspective of my math abilities in real life, I kept thinking that once I retired, I will get a university degree in Math,you know- for the sake of pure intelectual interest.
Now this- is a fantasy.
A huge one , too- for me .
For years I nurtured the thought that I am fully capable of jumping to the next mathematics level -and that the only obstacle was time .
Well, now I had (have, I have!) the time, lots and lots of it, and I decided it’s time .
So I enrolled in the open university, to get a math degree.
Now- you need to understand this was totally unnecessary in every aspect:
1.I have no intention of going back to work, even if I did have to go back to work-
2. I would go back to being a lawyer long before I would try to get a job with a math degree, and
3. the cost of this degree was quite high .
But- dreams are there to be pursued , right? believe in yourself? there’s nothing you can’t do?
The beginning was promising.
I was so excited when the books arrived!
I immediately started reading -though the semester hadn’t even started yet.
I was on the top of the world, I tell you.
I spread my books and notebooks all over the place, arranged magic markers in different colors, sharpened the pencils, got on line to buy refills for my uni ball pen, only to find out that buying 12 new pens costs 50% less than buying 12 refills (!!!!!! people! that is so non environmental! I made a point of buying a pen that can be re-used!) and prepared a list for future note pads and stuff.
Great time, really.
But then, I started doing the assignments, (that part was still ok)- and checking my answers,
I personally was really surprised at my grand failures.
I really thought I nailed it, until I checked the correct answers.
But that wasn’t the worst part:
The worst part was the on line classes.
There I was, sitting shameful in front of my computer, trying to follow the professor’s lecture and not really succeeding, when I realized that about 20% of the class, is made of 13 (!!!)year old kids, getting math credits even before they finished high school! even before 9th grade, for that matter!
The mere fact that those 20% existed wouldn’t have bothered me so much, if it weren’t for the fact that they understood the professor much faster than I did, and kept hurrying her (I swear this happened) with lines such as :”come on, that’s obvious, let’s move on. everybody gets it”!
“HELLO NOT E V E R Y B O D Y!“
Of course I didn’t say anything.
Are you kidding me??
I just watched the online lesson again and again, until I thought I nailed it, only to check the answers and find out that, well, not really.
To say this was frustrating would be an understatement.
But even worse- it was friggin humiliating.
There I was babbling to my partner about “the beauty of pure math, that is the basis of philosophy as Plato said, and needs only the sharp mind to grasp, no need for excessive explaining and much talking, only pure logic”-etc, when in fact- clearly my skills weren’t up for the task.
I kept going on, because that’s me-
That was me for so many years- failure is only a temporary state to overcome by hard work!” “if you don’t get it the first time- you’l get it the 300th time!”, “nothing ever came easy for you (that’s true by the way), but you always hung on and kept going till mission accomplished!”(also true).
I grew up knowing that “you always finish a book you started “
“you always finish eating from your plate” (I have a lot to say about this-promised myself I won’t do the same to my kids, even if it did mean being really creative about leftovers).(I can tell you I double checked with my kids prior to writing this- in case I was delusional about this, too. turns out they confirmed I never made them finish what’s on their plate, at least that is off my plate when my maternal sins shall be counted ).
And the last one:“you always finish a task you start”.
I can tell you I stopped reading books I don’t connect to- (but still feel a bit queasy about it), sadly- still finish everything off my plate, and up until now- I always pushed through every task.
I think I would have kept on going- if it weren’t for the fact that on the second on line lesson, the professor divided us into on line study groups, and I heard a chat between 2 of my “study mates” (only 3 in that room), chatting about the course.
They were as amazed as I was at the 13 year old’s, but then one of them told the other that “this course is considered very easy , compared to the next advanced courses”.
No no no.
I can barely keep my head over the water in this course-having to watch every recorded class a few times only to find out I am not really getting it- and this is the easy course????
I immediately turned off the computer, ( it was the middle of the class, mind you), and told my partner I can’t go on.
The next day I enrolled on 2 on line classes -no assignments or exams involved -therefor no degree granted-
One on empowerment in classical music, lectured by a famous conductor, and the other about french art .
At first- I felt relieved.
I could read again, sleep well, rest like a pro, drill holes in thrown buckets, re paint them –
drag a thrown out table , fix and re paint it- turning it into a nursery workshop-
But then, the old feeling crept.
“Seriously? you quit? isn’t that what a loser does? you wanted to quit so you told yourself you can’t handle it, when in reality- you were simply lazy!!“
(You can tell I ‘m kind of “tough love” with myself. )
I contemplated these feelings for a few days while meditating.
I think I’m more at peace with myself now.
Mainly because I found multiple justifications, and some of them valid, too.
“I would have continued in “real life”- now I am retired, and have no need for this degree- so no need to put that massive pressure for no real reason”…”I wanted to study music too- here’s my chance, and a gread conductor is lecturing, so!”
I love justifications.
My brain’s method of handling cognitive dissonance.
I accepted I failed, I quit, I didn’t follow through-
And that’s ok too.
Enjoy- the cooliflower.