Numbers

As an engineer, my life is filled with numbers. How fast is this moving? How much force does it have on it? What’s the amount of the electric field around it? Calculate, calculate, calculate… punch buttons, hit “Enter,” get an answer.

But numbers… what value do they have in life?

Numbers really don’t tell you anything in the grand scheme of things.

Like sure, I’m nineteen years, eight months, and three days old. I have been in school for almost three-quarters of my life, minus summer vacations and weekends (so really, it comes out to about thirty-eight percent of my time). My boyfriend and I have been dating for four hundred and fifty-two days, but we had been friends for three months and half a week (roughly) before that. I have four siblings – two sisters and two brothers. I moved into my current apartment seven months and twenty-five days ago.

But what does any of this tell you about me as a person?

It doesn’t tell you anything.

We quantify so much of our lives using these digits, but they don’t say anything about who we are. That’s really why I’m here now – to share who I am and how I live, and to discover things for myself. Because quite honestly, life isn’t about plugging numbers into a machine and seeing the result. Our day-to-day lives are not the results of a formula – no, they’re much messier than that. If it were that easy, then everyone really could figure out the “key” to happiness and success, and no one would be different. What kind of life would that be?

As much as I believe this is true – that numbers aren’t everything – it’s sometimes difficult to remember it. Since so much is based on numbers, it’s hard to believe that I’m not a statistic and that it’s okay to be different and stray from the “norm” sometimes. While it’s common knowledge that everyone grows and learns at their own pace, it’s not so easy to really feel that it’s right to.

Let’s take my age for example. Nineteen years – that’s old enough to drive a car and buy a lottery ticket, but I still have to wait a year and a couple months until I can drink legally. But just because I fit the quota with my age does not mean that I should still be allowed to do some of these things. The number’s the answer, but the question really should be, “Am I mature enough to do this?”

And then there is the amount of time you should wait for something: “Give it a week, it’ll blow over.” “Wait a month, see if your feelings change.” Sometimes I start to challenge myself using these numbers. For instance, I had an argument with a friend last summer, and I want to wait for a whole year to pass before trying to talk things out, because somehow I think that things will magically be all better by then. But I really don’t think this is the right approach at all. Instead, I should talk to her when I am ready to. It’s just really hard to do this when my brain keeps telling me, “Wait a few more months – then you can say it’s been a year, and everything will be okay.”

I think one of the biggest things I’m afraid of is having numerical values (and what society thinks about them) sway my thoughts when making huge, critical decisions. The one that worries me the most is marriage and the ages that come with it. As of right now, I feel that I’m way too young to be married, not only because of my age, but because I’m not mature enough for it. But then I do start thinking about numbers and suddenly, different scenarios run through my head. For instance, getting married right out of college. If everything works out between my boyfriend and me and we decide to get married, why wait? (or so my mind says sometimes) By then we’ll have dated for four or five years, and I’ll be twenty-two, maybe twenty-three years old… is that the “right” age to get married? Or is it still “too young” in society’s eyes? And if I wait, how long should I wait for? Wait until I’m twenty-five, twenty-six, maybe? Because then my mind’s sure to know what it wants. But what if it doesn’t? What if I still don’t know, or am “supposed” to wait until I’m twenty-eight or twenty-nine? The numbers start boggling my mind, overwhelming me…

The only thing I need to remember – for this and for anything – is this:

Despite what the numbers tell me, don’t do something until it’s right.

Numbers are important. They really are. They already give me something to do. Someday they’ll give me a job and help me pay for things, like a car, a house, my children’s education, and family vacations.

But as important as they are, I don’t need numbers to define my life.

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Thoughts…

I realized a lot of stuff today.

Thing Number One: why magic can’t exist.

Now, I know this sounds funny, but for the longest time my logic on this one was, “Magic can’t exist because… well, because it can’t.” But now I understand. I know why it can’t.

This is because of Newton’s Laws. Funny man, Newton. You seem to explain just about everything with your little rules. But no, seriously: it comes down to the basic principles. You can’t make something out of nothing. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction (FMA, anyone?). I think what really baffled me about this is the fact that it took me so long to actually realize.

Thing Number Two: why I can write when I have a thousand things going on and can’t when I don’t.

At first I thought it was just because I wanted to procrastinate, to put off doing all the stuff that must be done. And while that might be partially true, I think it’s more because I think so much more when I have so many things going on. My brain’s working on overload, so why not turn some of that into beauty? It always confused me when couldn’t write when I was handed a chuck of time, but now I get it. All I was thinking about was how I didn’t have anything I had to do instead of thinking of life around me. If I start actually thinking when I have nothing else to do, I’d have something good to write about. It all comes from the thought process.

So two things. That really is a lot of stuff, especially when I spent the majority of my time studying physics and freaking out about the midterm I have tomorrow. But it’s these thoughts that I can pull something new out of.

Avril 14th



I’m looping it again.

This song had its perfect moment a few hours ago. I was sitting in the study room starting to review for my physics midterm later this week when I glanced up. It was nothing monumental – just the clear blue sky with a few puffy white clouds strewn across it. But it made me stop, and I got lost in it and in the simple notes of the song, which was playing quietly in my ears.

To me this song represents just what the sky does: the rain is over. When I had to go to class not-so-bright and early this morning it was pouring; now it’s crisp, cool, and clear. I love the rain more than I can express right now: it’s so simple and fresh and renewing. It’s cleansing and silent, even through the sound of it on the roof. But it’s moments like these, when it moves over and the sky becomes clear again, that really take my breath away.

So simple. So overlooked. All expressed in this song.

Go listen to it. It will bring the sun out for you, too.

Faith and Love

I should preface this by saying that my boyfriend and I didn’t use the word “love” between us for over a year. Instead, we said something else: “I have faith.”

This morning one of my friends from high school asked me where our saying came from, what it means, and why we do it. I spent about 40 minutes writing back to her and really liked the response I gave, so I decided to paste it here so I’d be able to share it with the world.

~~~

Last year, when Davis and I first started going out, I was talking with my friend Dara about boyfriends and whatnot (since I hadn’t had one before him). We got to talking about saying “I love you” and I told her that I was afraid of just throwing those words around without actually meaning them. Because really, after you say that, there’s not anything you can say that means more than that, and it’s not something that you can easily take back if you make a mistake. And at that point I wanted to take precautions since he was (and still is) my first boyfriend, and I didn’t want to rush into saying things we didn’t mean. I also didn’t want to be left completely devastated if it didn’t work out between us right off the bat.

She offered her suggestion, because she felt the same way with her boyfriend. She said that they say “I have faith” to each other instead. (I’ll get to the meaning of it in a minute) I really liked it, not only because it was something sweet that we could say to each other that was similar to “I love you,” but also because it was uniquely us. I talked it over with Davis and expressed my concerns about telling him that I loved him prematurely (obviously at that point we hadn’t said it at all). He was feeling the same thing and really liked the idea, so we started saying “I have faith” and decided not to say “I love you” until we were both ready to.

So as to what it means… When we say “I have faith” to each other, it means that we have faith that everything will work out between us. We have faith in the relationship and faith in each other. We have faith that we’re meant to be together, because we really both feel that we are. For about a year it meant that we had faith that the right day would come when we could finally tell each other that we loved each other. Because believe me, it got REALLY hard not to tell him. That day did come, and it was really amazing to be able to say it. We waited until it was just right, until we were absolutely sure that it was true. We’d put a lot of emphasis on that word (“love”), and to finally say it and mean everything that it meant to us was really wonderful.

But I think what I like the most about it is this: while we do say “I love you” now, we still say “I have faith,” because both of us still do have faith. It still means so much to us. To us, the whole thing – the progression from saying “I have faith” to “I love you” – really felt right, and that’s why we did it.

~~~

Thank you, Stephanie. You really brightened my day!

Web of Boredom

Computer Problems

I have found that the Internet is starting to no longer hold my attention. And I cannot tell you how extremely happy I am to find this to be true.

All we do when we sit down in front of our computers is push buttons, and the more I realize this, the more I think about how much of my life I’m wasting behind a screen. What is sitting here really doing for me? It’s wasting time.

I mean, sure, in some circumstances, computers are most definitely helpful. They can provide a way to access an incredible amount of information. They can perform calculations in mere seconds. They can allow us to communicate with others, to express ourselves, to shout to the world from the privacy of our own homes. I enjoy using the Internet for this very reason: so that I can connect with others and and show someone else my viewpoint. It’s the easiest and fastest way to get my thoughts down on paper (figuratively), and I can show them to others and give them something to think about.

But the more I sit here, the more I realize that I usually just waste time when I don’t really have a reason to be here. My days are numbered, just like yours are, and I want to actually do something with them while I can. I want to use my time wisely, so I think from now on all of my Internet trips will be more purposeful.

Because boredly wandering will take me nowhere.

Comic from http://xkcd.com/722/

Duty

Meticulous.

They say I’m meticulous, and thorough, and observant. I walk the halls like they do, spotting every crooked exit sign, every doorbell light that’s burned out. I write it all down on my clipboard, which makes me feel official and slightly intimidating. My keys jangle around my neck as I continue, keeping time as I walk down another hallway at a quick pace. Only these and the swish-swish-swish of my jeans can be heard as I pass – my ninja shoes make no noise.

It’s become a process now, something my body is trained to do without me having to think about it. End of hall, open door, sniff – clear. Nine steps to a set of stairs, and my feet lightly tap each one of them. Turn, repeat. Open door, sniff – this time it’s food – someone’s baking brownies. My body continues down a new yet identical hallway and my eyes sweep for anything out of place. Another corner turned, another hallway down. What are we going to find next?

Some days we’re lucky – we get by only finding a scrape on the wall or a burned-out ceiling light. Other nights, though, it’s not that easy. Loud music, clanking beer cans, ping pong balls hitting tables – these noises turn into confused people, silence, questioning looks as they produce their IDs, and tedious hour-long papers that we must write so others can see the situation as we saw it.

Sometimes I wonder what happened to these people. How did they get here? What led them to decide to drink tonight, to make noise, to get in potentially dangerous situations where someone could get hurt? The life I experience is nowhere near one that wants an outside escape – so what’s different for them? I have everything I could possibly want in my life – what’s missing in theirs? And how can I help them find it?

It’s these situations that make me afraid – afraid of my own hallways, where a different, scary situation could be lurking around every corner, and afraid of life. Will my life ever look like that? Will I ever end up on the receiving end of one of these documentations? Since I don’t understand what led them to their actions, how will I know what to look for? And most of all, will I ever be driven to that?

I hope to God that I won’t.

But all I can do is keep living like I am, thinking the way I do, surrounding myself with the same amazing people that are in my life. And I keep patrolling the hallways, trying to keep the building in order and everyone inside it safe.

Fixer

He promised me.

Long before we were dating, perhaps even before we had given it any thought, he made me a promise.

We were sitting in my kitchen, humming along with Coldplay (which was playing softly in the background), talking about whatever came to mind. Then “Fix You” came on and we both went quiet. I remember having a thousand thoughts race across my mind and I was lost in my own little world for a minute, completely out of reach.

Then his voice pulled me back.

“‘Tears streaming down your face…'” he said. He looked at me, his blue-green eyes gazing into my soul. “I promise that if you ever feel this way, I will fix you.”

My brain stopped spinning entirely. No one had ever said anything like that to me before. I mean, sure, I got hugs from friends when I was upset, with pats on the back and “There, there, it’s all right”s, but it had never been anything that blatant, that honest. Here was someone who was really willing to help me when I was crumbling, even though we’d met only a few weeks before.

I can’t say I remember what I replied with. We were just getting to know each other, and I’m pretty sure I said I’d fix him too. But I do remember how his words made me feel and how much they’ve stuck with me.

But what gets me even more is how true he’s been to the promise he made that girl living next door to him last year. He could have forgotten about it entirely and just left me to deal with my own problems, as I feel many guys would do.

Not him. No, every time I have an emotional meltdown, he comes over and takes me in his arms. He holds me until it’s all out, until the last teardrop has been shed and I can cry no more. He passes me the roll of toilet paper I’ve stolen from our bathroom and helps me dry my eyes. He listens through the sniffles to my problems, my fears, my frustrations and tells me it’ll be alright. Nevermind that he has homework to do. Nevermind that his shirt’s now covered in his girlfriend’s tears and snot. Nevermind that he wasn’t the cause of it, that he shouldn’t be the one on the receiving end of my meltdown. He just pulls me closer and rubs my back, always patient, always kind. And once I’m done he tilts my chin up until I can see into his wonderful ocean eyes with my puffy red ones. He smiles and once again looks into my soul and tells me he loves me, making the world bright again.

He fixes me.

Never once has he wavered from his promise, and for that I am so incredibly grateful.

Sometimes it flat-out baffles me that I have come to find someone so wonderful in the world. I have been so lucky and so blessed by God to be able to call him my best friend and my boyfriend. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve him, but all I can hope is that I can give him everything he’s given me.