I am a girl who loves words. And somehow, without meaning to, I have become a girl who also loves numbers.

I have always loved words. They combine strings of seemingly arbitrary symbols to create daring epics, dashing adventures, succinct haikus, even dry textbooks. The magic and power of words hold a certain mystical appeal for me, and have since before I learned to read. Until rather recently, I believed words were all I needed: my world was built upon words, and words alone. 

Words, as mystical and enchanting as they may be, are not all the world is built on. Our world is controlled by words, yes, but it is built on a foundation of numbers. For a long time, I refused to acknowledge the power in math–the power in algebra and trig, the power in angles and statistics. But then, something changed. I began to learn calculus. 

Suddenly, “mathematics” became a word to describe something else I loved– a new kind of magic and power. Mathematics had for too long seemed finite, boring, limited; no room for my madcap freeform style of learning, learning without limits. For too long, I had refused to appreciate the cool elegance in a set of equations, refused to see the beauty in a page filled with mathematical precision, refused to admire the curves of a sine graph going on and on and on into infinity.

Now, I recognize and admire what is beautiful about math. My world is more open, more diverse. In learning how to take a limit, I was doing the exact opposite–I was breaking down the walls I had built within my mind, and opening myself to a whole new world of exploration and discovery.

It took me a long time to discover that I could love both words and numbers, and an even longer time to realize that I do. But in that recognition, I have opened my world and broadened my horizons–I am truly unlimited in the paths I can take. 

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February 15, 2011

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