Ten teachings ago, we learned that wisdom will be enduring when our good deeds exceed said wisdom. Today we turn to a strikingly similar teaching–with drastically different results.
I recently read David Berlinski’s A Tour of the Calculus, a wildly imaginative and lyrical look at the intuition and origination of one of math’s most recognizable elements. I was delighted as he described the wondrous experience of seeing mathematical functions in everyday life (an experience I’m prone to myself), and I was lulled into a certain sense of dualistic comfort when he uncovered the natural yet unexpected partnership between differentiation and integration, the two processes wholly defining the calculus.
While I read today’s teaching, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Berlinski’s musical prose, of the unambiguous manner in which he related unassuming but intimately connected ideas–which is, as you’ll soon see, precisely the challenge presented today.
One of my first and favorite math teachers used to say it’s not about the “x,” it’s about the “y.” I came to a similar assumption last week, whether I articulated it or not, when I began looking at the Pirkei Avot again: It’s something I learned repeatedly in my political theory course, that it doesn’t matter who tells us something or whether it’s true or wise, but that before we accept it, we consider it critically.
If “x” marks the spot, we must then derive “y.”
Endurance training is pretty basic. It simply involves proper pacing, commitment, and determination. Through continued exercise, stamina and endurance are increased accordingly. But how does one make wisdom enduring? Last time we spoke about reverence and how it roots our wisdom, and this time we’re going to continue the narrative.
After all, if we are enduring, we’re practically immortal.
I teased today’s teaching last week when I explained my recent absence from writing and today I bring it back, but before we get to it, I offer a question to consider: What is wisdom? Who is wise? And why would–or would not–wisdom last over time?
It may be beneficial to take a moment to think thoroughly of these things before reading onward, but if you’d rather rush ahead, that’s okay, too–just keep all these thoughts in mind for later.
And when that web came, I got caught up in it. No matter which direction I pulled, the strings held me back. Each crystalline thread became a chain, and somewhere just out of sight, I knew there was a demon lurking waiting to wrap me in its poison, and swallow me whole, my lungs still full of air, my heart still beating, still bleeding.
No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape. I could change my perspective, look up or look down, turn my eyes and scan the horizon, but I was still tied in place. Only if someone could come and cut me down would I be freed from this torment. Only if I there were someone nearby.
But for all I could see, I was alone. There was no one.
Yesterday was a fantastic day. And by yesterday, so we’re clear, I do mean Monday. It’s what happens when I sleep in late and have unexpected things come up in the afternoon and evening. Makes my days drag on and Tune Tuesdays never happen…. Music Mondays? Just not working out. Good thing for Tuesdays, or else my alliterative longing would’ve made maintaining Mondays especially laborious.
Anyways, today’s Tuesday, and I was talking about Monday and how fantastic it was.
Yesterday I got carried away with art. I like art. I like it even more since I added another hundred or so plugins to Paint.net. I knew it would happen when my internet came back, but I hadn’t expected to spend so many hours playing with them all right away. Nor had I imagined we’d be going to the laundromat last night, chasing circles after my niece for an hour or so, and then spend a few more folding before, so exhausted, bed was the only option.
And today, my head feels like one red balloon floating to the moon, quoth Enya. Carry on, I dare say, carry on. This one will be interesting. As I feel half Luna and half drowsy, I don’t see it being any other way.