The Great Equalizer
I awoke from a dream with a pulsating headache. Typically, it takes some real effort to recall the details of my dreams unless I wake up from a half-sleep-half-wake cycle. Most times it doesn’t matter what the details were as long as I can capture the essence of what the dream was about. There seems to have inherent in dreaming a message that is trying to transcend from the sleep world into the conscious world. Especially when I am exposed to a challenge or problem to transverse in the conscious space, my dream life works to find viable solutions. Such was the case last night. I awoke with an epiphany.
My headache is indicative of ‘a lot on my mind’. By process of elimination I am able to dissect its cause. It is definitely related to thinking. Although I keep a busy schedule, I get ample sleep. I also have not been debaucherously frolicking about in the arts of drinking and smoking. My nourishment has been adequate and I am well hydrated. I can honestly say I am of sound mind and body. So, the culprit lies with the heavy conceptual thinking I have been habitually engaging in over the course of several weeks. My brain is full and tired, if that is even such a feat.
You’ve heard it said that “everything happens for a reason.” Before I get into my epiphany, let me entertain the journey of my current barrage of seemingly random activities. As I embark on obtaining my teaching certification, there are several prerequisites I must accomplish in order to move on to the next level of coursework. One requirement that needs satisfying is a comprehension test – The PRAXIS. The PRAXIS is a series of tests that gauge a level of basic competencies. It is used as a foundational assessment of reading, writing and arithmetic. I took the initial three-part test and passed two sections. I failed the math portion. In order to progress through my program of study I will need to retake the math portion and pass it. My solution to this quandary is to take on a tutor. I meet with a live person twice a week to help me navigate through the world of ‘simple’ math. I also take on the role of self-learner and visit the KHAN Academy website for easy to understand math tutorials. I’m becoming more and more confident in my ability to absorb some of this math ‘stuff’.
Being a visual learner all my life, I have adopted ways in which to problem solve through images and pictures. My mind works more with concepts as opposed to linear thinking. That is why I have trouble with timelines and incremental thinking. Unfortunately, I have developed some crippling habits along the way. I never really understood the process of math. In my younger years I classified myself as having a ‘math phobia’. I no longer subscribe to that notion. I now have an intense awe and respect for math. This understanding did not come by way of me finally figuring out how to do math, but rather through listening and watching those who have a passion and love for the discipline in the same way I have for art.
Which now brings me to the topic of language. Math is its own language. Art is its own language. Language is its own language!
Language [lang-gwij] noun
1. a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition. (dictionary.com)
People use language to connect to each other and the world around them. I have been gaining new appreciations for different types of languages that go beyond linguistics. The sciences have many intriguing sects: Chemistry, Botany, Physics, Biology, Psychology….the list goes on and on. Even what use to be my arch nemesis – Mathematics. There are specialists in every field who eat, drink and sleep the language of their chosen discipline. They all have a piece of the puzzle. Humanity is an array of different creations, all with their own way of absorbing and transmitting their existence.
Back to math. I love listening to a mathematician describe the world through numbers and equations. It’s like a scene in the movie the Matrix where Neo was finally enlightened and possessed the ability to see the world through the lens of binary code. For the people that speak that language, that must look simply breathtaking. For people like me who gravitate towards the language of art, I prefer my lenses to be the color pink! However, whatever the language it seems to me we are all trying to describe the same things and some of those things are big invisible stuff like Hope, Patience, Faith, Kindness, Charity, Love or even God.
In an intense series of inquiry and contemplation with my best friend Freedom, we have embarked on the quest of answering the bigger questions of humanity about the necessity or abandonment of the concept of religion. That’s a lot of words to capture the thought, ‘What or who guides our lives?” That question is loaded and can go in a million different directions, so for brevity I will omit our commentary.
What is important to note is that the series of conversations were occupying the reserves of my mental space. I bring it up to come full circle on my dream of last night and the epiphany surrendered.
In one of my math tutoring sessions we were going over the basic functions of converting percent to decimal to fractions and back. I admit it was a challenge to swiftly execute the conversions. Lots of numbers and their visual symbols were swirling in my head, hence the headache. Upon retiring for bed after a long session with Freedom about the existence of ‘God’ and what man ‘needs’ to guide his life, I was mentally exhausted. I must have still had some residual math problem solving kicking around in my head that needed resolution, because during my sleeping hours I dreamed of numbers. These numbers were all jumbled in a pile reminiscent of fall foliage raked into a big pile. The pile of arithmetic symbols began to swirl around in a typhoon fashion. Then they began to group themselves. Numbers and symbols began to gravitate towards one another grouping in specific and comfortable ways. 5+2=7. The geometry symbols came together and formed a 3, 4, 5 triangle forming a Pythagorean triple. More groupings took place, but the most outstanding of them all were the fractions.
The fractions were frantically jostling about trying to find their place above and below the line. Lots of bumping and shoving and claiming positions happened with the excitability and frequency of a chemical reaction. But, suddenly as if in a synchronized swimming dance, they effortlessly found their familiar configuration of ‘the common denominator’. All the fractions lined up in order with all the base numbers the same. THAT was the epiphany! The hyper activity of the images, thoughts beliefs, doctrines, philosophies, charts, graphs, figures, books, numbers and symbols swimming around in my head were magnetized and began grouping together. Common associations formed; Chaos turned to organized chaos turned to minimalist simplicity. All the languages markedly proclaimed the same sentiment. All cultures with their variables of content merged to form humanity. All divisions were solved and remainders described. All choices were balanced against the same parameter. All the questions of creation, God, religion and text culminated into one simple answer. A common denominator formed.
Here is my final equation on the matter: God = Love.