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On Reading “The Element” – Part 3

December 11, 2009

In the fourth chapter, entitled “In the Zone,” Dr. Ken Robinson writes that when a person is in their Element, and things are going well, they are “in the zone.”

To further my goal of finding my Element, I’ve been trying to think of times when I’ve been “in the zone” (because I’m familiar with the feeling) and what I was doing at the time. Maybe those times that I was in the zone will give me insight into what my Element might be.

The first thing that comes to mind, however, is when I open up the financial spreadsheets that I have created to help track our monthly bills and how much money we have to spend each month to pay down our debt, etc. They are fairly complicated Excel spreadsheets and I love fiddling with them.

Another time that comes to mind is when I was trying to figure out how to make a quilt square out of the Golden Rectangle (aka “Fibonacci Blocks”). The Fibonacci Sequence is one of my favorite mathematical concepts. If I think of it, i’ll try to upload a picture of what I eventually came up with. Considering it went from daylight to full dark and when I was done I was STARVING, I can only imagine that it took me two or three hours to come up with a pattern that worked, but it didn’t feel like that.

I can also lose time balancing my checkbook, which sounds lame, but there it is.

Those are all math related, which makes me think that I should take another look at math. I always liked math when I was in school, but I wans’t very quick at it, so I never thought I was very good. I always got good grades, but it took a lot of effort on my part. But I love the simple elegance of the Pythagorean theorem or the Fibonacci sequence. Long division is one of my favorite things. Sometimes I just do it for fun. And it’s not necessarily the complicated math I like, but the simple, basic stuff that helps us get through our days.

And come to think of it, it might even be the puzzle-solving aspect of it that I love, and not the math, per se. When something goes wonky with a spreadsheet, I have to figure out what it is. When my checkbook’s balance is off by $0.02, I have to figure out why.

I like the neat, orderly puzzle-solving that I learned in high school physics and algebra. Figure out the mass of this equation. Solve for x. Okay.

I also really, really always enjoyed helping people figure out how much fabric they might need for x, y, or z project when I worked at the Fabric store. It could be dinner time and I’d be in the midst of calculating yardage, and I’d tell someone else to go before because I’d be a minute. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I don’t like to skip meals because it makes me light-headed and grouchy.


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