Do you believe the number 13 is unluckier than other numbers? How about Friday the 13th being unlucky?
March 13th of this year, 2020, was, not to be too dramatic, but a total shutdown of life as we knew it. Now, it has been eight months since then. Eight!
Although you may be not be wanting an analysis of grammar from a blog entitled, “Talking Math,” the exclamation point at the end of the eight can mean so much. I suppose how you read, “Eight!” might give clues as to how you are interrupting life lately, and by lately it could mean the last 3/4 of the year, or at any point in that time. Think: If you were to take away the exclamation point and insert an emoji, existing or imagined, what would it be?
One perspective might be excitement. Here is an example: “I love math!” Not going to lie, fear of sickness for everyone aside, there have been many parts of this “temporary norm” I have thoroughly enjoyed. As a person who leans toward introversion, and prefers to stay home often, I have enjoyed having time to be more casual, time to relax, time to catch up on cleaning, time to be with my kids who will soon be out of the nest, time to think, and time to just breathe from the sometimes hectic life I led. While the thought of silver linings may have become cliche, and for sure there is so many milestones that will look different this year, this break in the routine of our regular lives may be something I think I may miss. It isn’t crazy to think I will look back in many years and say, “Remember 2020… that was such a slow time, and filled with meh, but I kind of miss the pace.”
Or “Eight!” could be in exasperation. Like: “Ugh! Algebra, ahhh…gain?!?” And, I know I have had moments like that in the past eight months. In fact, at times I have felt like I am in my own version of Groundhog’s Day. I know it’s important to keep my family safe, so we are doing things a little bit differently. My family is staying home more – an extended, not-as-fun version of staycation. Maybe you can relate. If you are like me, you no longer have the job you once had, or you have your job, but are performing it from home. So your routine is gone, extending the combination repetitive and pointless feeling each day. I am experiencing the last eight months as a series of peaks and valleys, narrated by only the voice in my head, despite having my family of four also around. The words and pictures on social media and the background noise of TV have replaced the hubbub of my classroom and school, and the now-treasured live interaction with people. Some days are great, of course. My family is awesome! While others are not because life is what it is. The extremes in the monotony is what lead is the exasperation often felt during this unprecedented times in, arguably, all of our lives.
Early on in the months of the pandemic, I tried very hard to eliminate anger, which could escape as, “Eight!” I often heard this type of frustration come out as anger during math class, for example, “I hate math!” or “Math hates me!” Just like numbers haven’t really done any physical harm to any person and there is no physical reason to feel hatred towards an inanimate math*, I tried to overcome the frustration and anger I was having for the situation forced upon us on the 13th of March. I released control to things I could not control. At that point I figured we’d be done our shutdown in the summer, which then led to by the beginning of the school year, and of course, here we are well into November and we are still into the thick of it. If I am being honest with the situation, in the spring, some days even stepping outside was an exercise in bravery, let alone going to a store. I know not everyone has the same low level of risk tolerance, but we all lead different lives and as I witnessed images on television of hospitals, I knew returning for a visit was not something I wanted to do- my family and I had punched enough hospital stay cards. Plus, and I digress, while some people are game to jump out of planes, I cringe driving over a bridge, or even walking over one at a mini-golf course. I take other types of risks, don’t feel bad for me… or make fun :). Bravery looks different to everyone, and I think we should be equitable in our understanding. Digression over… It is totally is a bummer that we can’t be like we were this time last year. Absolutely awful. But, I can’t control it. I have no skills to make a vaccine, I did not go to college for public health policy, and I have no political power to change the way the world can act. I can change how I react, and how my family gets through everyday. My Eight! months is sometimes so frustrating, but I am less inclined towards this as my exclamation of choice.
So, it’s now another Friday the 13th. Eight months later. Period. Good news, maybe, is the next Friday the 13th isn’t until August of 2021. Best case scenario for between now and _____(fill in the blank) is that we return to our normal way of life, right? I don’t think we will return to normal, like 2019 normal, because life’s a journey and the past eight months has taught us all how to live differently. Whether we think about the eight months as happy, exasperated, angry, or simply occurring, we all are different people now. The math of the past eight months’ worth of the pandemic has shaped the narrative of our lives, and we will move into the next eight months and beyond, as a new version of ourselves.
The math? Everyday we are bombarded with numbers as it relates to the pandemic and the world. How you interpret those numbers, and how you can empathize and react to the numbers, over time, over this much time, impacts us as people. Our daily lives, lived within the narratives of our homes, is impacted by weighing decisions, calculating risks, and using math in ways we never thought we would need. Our logical selves and emotional selves are in conflict everyday, with no clear winner, and no need for a winner.
Be safe, be well.
*Why people think they hate math… great topic for a blog post! I’ll add it to my list! And, yes, exclamation points placed with purpose.