Life is Hard. Math is Harder.

Do you remember when parents would come to see what their little urchins do in elementary school all day? I remember one such evening in third grade. My classmates offered MOMA-worthy collages and watercolors. Feeling less creatively-inclined, I filled half a chalkboard with a complex math problem that was above third-grade mastery. I felt a deep sense of accomplishment with my numerical art. It seemed that with enough persistence, every problem had a solution.

Living life as a math problem to be solved, however, yields some lousy equations. One that I'm particularly aware of is:

Life = hard = can't keep up = shouldn't be this way.

When that's been my basic operating equation, I've noticed three responses:

  • Walking around with a sense of weary heaviness
  • Escaping into fantasyland or addictive/compulsive behavior
  • Erecting numbing walls that block out heaviness (but also joy and love)

What would happen if I changed my equation? In fact, what if I simply threw out equations altogether? What if I started living life less as a math problem to be solved and more as a work or art that is unfolding organically? What if I trusted the Flow of Life?

This transition from math class to art class is a process, and I'm learning as I go. One tool that is helping is the phrase: "That's not my problem."

  • When the old equations start calculating the future, I say, "That's not my problem. Future Scott will handle that just fine."
  • When the past demands that its numbers add up, I reply, "That's not my problem. Scott did his best with the resources and level of awareness he had back then."
  • When I simply can't control or solve a problem in the present, I respond, "That's not my problem. The position of God has already been filled."

Fortunately, life is like a chalkboard. We can always erase our equations and start over.