you'll be grateful and the learning is never

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Mathematics has this funny way of treating you.

You slog for hours to understand a single concept, wrestling with the mental acrobatics performed by what you swear is the most hideous proof you've seen (a title to be bested tomorrow), but still feeling compelled to toil on. Hours pass, and then suddenly, a switch clicks, the pieces fall in place, and you "get it".

Proofs are hard to assemble, and to the new learner, cannot be discussed in the terms directed at the learned. The newbie must instead re-invent the mental constructs needed for the proof using the cryptic words of the author. But once the proof is assembled once, the mind is clear, and it can be so obviously disassembled and reassembled again.

That's the reward for the long hours of toil, and anybody who has wrestled with those weird symbols can attest to the euphoria at the end of it. Unfortunately, it lasts for about a day, and then the dread of another task comes crashing down.

Still, we have the drive to carry on, not only because of some abstract notion of understanding at the end of the journey, but also because of the joys of applying this new knowledge to problems. This active doing of Math, is probably one of the quickest ways to get to a Flow State, and it's no wonder our brains like the exercise.

But while toy problems serve for quick bouts of fun, they certainly aren't the driving force for further learning. Instead, it's the times when we get a sneak peek out of the ludic context - when we apply our Math in a piece of software, when we teach somebody and watch as their minds open with new insight, when we create value - that we realise that the honeymoon with Math really does have it's perks.

You think differently. You see new patterns. You find truth. There is now an acceptance towards Math, just like there is an acceptance towards life - as something with truth that you'll never understand, but whose joy will be realised upon coming full circle. It feels complete.

Math helps you understand that completeness, but is itself, never complete.


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