It appears that Spring is finally coming and I am so glad of less than frigid temperatures. But yet, for me Spring has always been a bit sad. This is the time of year when I finally feel the ending of the last cycle and beginning of the next. When I was in school, I always hated the end of the school year – another summer of nothing to do and little friends to do anything with. Autumn was the exciting time, of new subjects and new projects. But I’m switching that up with some new changes.
First, a friend invited me to get a gym membership, as she had just signed up. Planet Fitness, $10/month, no minimum term, open 24/7. What a fabulous deal. Because I didn’t have the kids over past weekend, we went every day at 5:30. Guess what? If you go on Easter Sunday at 5:30 am, there are no crowds. In fact, there’s nobody at all. It was just the two of us. But when there are people, it’s nice to see that there are more girls lifting weights. I love lifting weights, I feel like I’m actually doing something. And I don’t particularly care that I’m wearing a Dr. Who t-shirt with no makeup and can only chest press a 40 lb. barbell. I’m so grumpy when I get up but that’s why I have a buddy, and we can both be grumpy, yet accountable to each other.
Then yesterday I went to tutor math to some grade school kids, including my eldest. There’s a group of seven, and their math skills are in-between grades – not advanced enough to skip a grade, yet getting bored with the current grade. There’s a curriculum of what looks to be word problems. But at the same time, it sucks to say, “Yay, kids, you’re advanced! So here’s more boring work to do.” (For the record, I happen to love word problems myself) I decided instead that we should do something fun with math, like Sudoko! It’s basically a logic puzzle with numbers. We color coded the numbers so they could look for patterns across rows and columns, and every time a kid figured out a number, I had him or her explain to rest of the group the thinking behind it. They really liked it.
Rowan has complained about the rote memorization they have to do, and I’ve told her that unfortunately, you need to get through all the stuff first before you get to the really cool stuff. That math is language unlike any other, and it has a beauty and an elegance when you realize what it can explain. . . and predict. For example, if you were using words to explain what a sphere was without using a synonym like “ball,” it would take a sentence or two. But the word “sphere” is far more elegant. And so is
When I was working on a software problem some weeks back and finally deduced that the problem was a conversion problem between Cartesian coordinates and Polar coordinates, it was great feeling to match the discrepancy pattern to a formula. Maybe it was those Martin Gardner math puzzle books that my Dad had around–I used to pore over them. But the funny thing is, I was never very good at them. I’m smart, but not always fast. And I’ve known many people who are wayy smarter than I am. It’s taken me awhile to accept that I can still offer something. I have no PhD in math, but I can still show some elementary school kids some cool math tricks.
One thing that has dogged me my whole life is not feeling like I am ready – not ready enough to dance in front of people, not ready enough to write, not ready to work out the way I should work out, not ready to make those dietary changes, not ready to consistently get up a good time, not ready enough to have this much responsibility. If only I put more time into it, did more research, practiced more – then I’d be ready. So now I am moving towards just executing. Not ready? Then improve the next time, but keep going. I still feel that panic of oh no, this is going to be awful, because I’m not ready.
I was telling a friend about how introverted I used to be, but now I consider myself an extrovert. I’m not sure if that’s completely true though. When I go out, especially alone, I often still have that panic moment, I don’t want to do this, it’s probably going to be terrible, no one will talk to me, because really, what do I have to offer? Then I make a conscious effort to interpret my anxiety as excitement, and if nothing else, it will be great opportunity to ask some questions and listen. Because I always need to improve my listening skills, and as much as I am hard on myself, I find other people completely fascinating. I want to know. I want to know the truth, the darkness and the suffering and the insecurity and the authenticness of how people actually live, who they actually are when they are naked and alone. I also want to know their successes and what they love and who they love and if they think about death, because I do, all the time. Not necessarily in a morbid way, but I feel it, and want to feel proud of my life whenever it ends, hopefully in the distant future. For various reasons, I am terribly aware that it could all just end randomly. I could get up one morning and get into my car and be hit by a semi, and there it all goes. Or I could live to be a hundred.
I think that is the change I’m trying to go for, not just happiness, but something I can be proud of. Sure, there are going to be nights when it’s great to chill with friends and some really good whiskey, or watch a Netflix marathon, or camp and hike. But there are those moments when you’re all alone, just you and yourself in the mirror. I am glad that I can look at myself and accept the woman I see there now – I used to want to cut her face all up. But I also want to consistently look her in the eye and feel like I’ve done my best. That I gave more than I took. That my existence had more than a net zero effect. I’m not talking about what my kids or my family or my friends think of me – I am grateful to love and be loved on that account. But to know that I did my part, however itty-bitty, to help the human race–that would make me so happy. I’m still not sure what to offer there, still figuring that out, but I know it will involve other people. And that’s what I’m looking for, my tribe, my friends that carry the desire, and then maybe we can do something great together.