I joke about math and how difficult it can be when I’m at cross fit. To be fair, that’s because when you work out at 5 in the morning, and you work out hard, numbers can get a bit more complicated to deal with. I joke about it, but I actually keep pretty good, some might say obsessive, track of my numbers.
I like math.
I always have. I was the kid in 2nd grade who got pumped when the teacher announced we’d be taking a “mad minute” math quiz (one page of problems, one minute time limit – go!).
Recently, I talked with my brother and had a realization. He said that he didn’t try hard at school, and that’s why he didn’t get the best grades. He put his energy into sport. Implied, though not stated, was that I tried hard at school. From my perspective, I didn’t. I put my energy into reading, but I didn’t read textbooks beyond what was assigned. I excelled at school with minimal effort (for the most part – I do still remember how I almost failed vocabulary in 6th grade because I refused to memorize and regurgitate the exact definitions in the book).
For him to match my grades would have taken effort he didn’t wish to expend. For me to approach his prowess at sports, I would have had to give an effort I didn’t even know I had when I was young. Our perspectives were just so different.
And so, when I encounter people who aren’t “math” people, who have a genuinely bad relationship with numbers, I have a hard time understanding. I think it’s an important perspective for me to understand, as a writer, but it’s also hard to grasp. Algebra makes sense in my brain; it’s simple, consistent, and intuitive. To imagine that not being true is foreign.
Even after a hard workout, summing a column of numbers is a relaxing exercise for me. I do have problems with counting sometimes, mid-workout, but burpees do have a way of jarring numbers out of my head.
In my mind, the jokes about not liking math, or numbers, were just jokes. Sure, we say math sucks, like we say Monday sucks or burpees suck – wait, no, burpees really do suck. But the funny part is that math doesn’t suck. Isn’t it?