It’s tax day in Canada. And there’s nothing poetic about that. But it when I think of taxes I think of accountants, and then I think of numbers. And numbers, those are poetry to me.
I have always been good at math. Although I met a few people who were better while I was at university, I can certainly hold my own in most rooms. And while I didn’t love math class (or probably any class, there’s a certain tedium in structured learning), I never hated it in the way that many of my friends did. It was not my nemesis, it made sense to me. I viewed it as luck on my part, that I had this aptitude. I thought it opened doors for me, and I was right. Being good at math never hurt anyone, that’s for sure.
I only really started appreciating numbers once I was in university. During that time I learned to speak the language of numbers in all my classes, and it changed my mindset. I could use the mathematical tools I’d honed for all sorts of things, and I liked it. I even began to find some happiness in doing it. I would do mental long division to pass the time I spent waiting at bus stops, or determine the factors of numbers I saw on license plates in traffic. (792 = 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 x 3 x 11)
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my favourite number. There are certain characteristics that make numbers ‘good’ to me. For one thing, they have to be even, and preferably divisible by 4. I also like them to be divisible by 3. And having a ‘6’ in there somewhere works in a number’s favour. My current favourite number is 96. Like I said, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. I am just that cool.
I think numbers and mathematics speak to me on some level partly because of my strong need for order and predictability. They’re unambiguous, they’re clean and concise, they provide measurement and categorization. When you’re trying to deal with a problem in your daily life, the ability to translate it into a numerical formula simplifies things. It takes a question from the intangible to the tangible, and provides a shortcut.
I hope that my love of numbers will be evident to my daughter. And that she will understand that being female has no bearing on your ability to solve for X. That she will see how the ability to think mathematically can be so helpful. It would cause my heart great pain to see her wearing one of those T-shirts that say, ‘I’m too pretty to do math,’ I know that much for sure.
So what about you? Do you love numbers, or do you have some other ‘thing’ that speaks to you but causes most people to nod off? I’m sure we all have them. Right? (Make something up if you have to, I’m dying here!)