Math Applies to Real Life

18 Aug

Remember in high school, when you were forced to take Algebra and Pre-Calc, and they told you that this was an important part of your education, that this applied to Real Life? Or in college, when Calculus was part of a required “Liberal Arts Core Curriculum,” and you needed to use these big complicated graphing calculators with functions like sin and cosin to even start thinking about working out the problem, and if this was really, in any way applicable to Real Life, then wouldn’t everyone, all those blissfully math-free adults walking around, have to own graphing calculators, and maybe strap them on their belts where their BlackBerries now rest? Wouldn’t this be required?

I will tell you something: they lied. I hated math then, but even I can’t hold a grudge for that long. Now I am old enough to know better, and possibly too mature and spiritually advanced to hate (and also: worn-down – all that vehement, anti-math negative energy is so exhausting, and impossible to maintain, at that degree of intensity, for any length of time), so instead I have developed a mild-to-medium distaste for it, with a (strong) tendency to avoid it at all costs. Which is not hard to do. Because it is not necessary for Real Life. The only time I actually use math is in the case of tipping, and I generally like to tip 18%, which strikes some degree of anxiety in my heart because this is slightly more complicated than 15% or 20%, but the anxiety is only momentary and therefore, by definition, dissipates within moments after I have left the restaurant. And it’s not like I have to find the sin of x, if x is equal to [one Outrageous California Burrito, plus 1/2 (an order of made-at-your-table-mild-to-medium guacamole)] to the large Diet Coke power.

I have one friend who insists that she uses math all the time, and cited the time she had to figure out the dimensions of a window she was embedding within her front door, but I will argue that this is an incredibly rare example of an exceptional person who may be too handy for her own good. If this was me, I would figure out how much I had to pay the person to figure out the dimensions of the window I wanted to install in my front door.

I will concede that there is an argument to be made for using math to balance your checkbook, but I will not tell you where I stand on this argument.

And ok, I often use Venn Diagrams to figure out scheduling, like:
This is my Venn Diagram – I am free Tues, Thurs, and Sat
And this is your Venn Diagram – You are free Fri, Sat, and Sun
So let’s hang out where our Venn Diagrams overlap, on Saturday!

And since I am coming clean here, I will admit that I do like to frequently employ the word ‘exponentially,’ in my writing and my everyday speech, as it adds a sort of left-brain-gravity and/or authority to my otherwise right-brain-skewing self.

But overall (because none of my aforementioned examples truly require any of the math I was forced to struggle through in 10th grade), I have done the proofs and my theorem – Math Does Not Apply to Real Life – is pretty set in stone. Alas, in math, as in life, there is often a statistical outlier.

Here’s an equation I recently discovered that does apply to (my) Real Life:

I Want More + He Wants Less = It’s Over

I am not in a place to comment on his mathematical issues, but I will say this: if you take the square root of my abandonment issues, factor in some codependency, and multiply the whole thing by my extreme sensitivity, you’ve got a doozy of a problem to solve, and not even a graphing calculator will help with this one.

They never teach you how much math can hurt, when you miscalculate.

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