I awoke this morning feeling in a state of anguish. Or perhaps a better term would be frustrated. In any case, I was late to my 8AM class and was surely missing something important. Sure enough, I walked in conveniently just after a quiz and a lengthy explanation of the week’s project and I was left to figure things out on my own (unsuccessfully). A friend asked where I was headed afterward. “I don’t know. Home I guess. Get ready for the day.”
I didn’t intend to get ready for the day. I just assumed some more sleep would console my lack of enthusiasm for my unexciting life. So I lay on my bed to rest, determining that the list of items on my to-do list would get done eventually, but I was too uncomfortable to get started on them.
I recently had a conversation with a good friend with whom I’ve been long out of touch. This dialogue led me to ponder on my attitude toward where I am now. I miss that free, adventurous life. Sure, life as a engineering student can be adventurous in some ways, but this creativity is bounded given a great many initial conditions. Abstraction is replaced with optimization. Clarity is replaced with precision. I don’t walk around humming new melodies in search of the most vibrant and sweet anymore. I don’t play them on my piano, reviving myself with their emotional sounds. That to me is a problem; that mode of mind is no longer my primary function. What is a free mind free to think if it does not conjure something stupendous in its daily activity? I’ve sat here, wondering how I could fill these pages with words, but no words flowed, because ideas were not constantly spewing from my mind.
My old place of safety was the HFAC, though in recent years through my lack of new connections in the School of Music, I have hardly run into any familiar faces in the times during which I entered. But today I walked in with no plan in mind, just to try to gain back an inkling of… faith, perhaps.
I want to say that something remarkable happened. Because it did. For the following six hours, I remained at the slab and was granted the continuous presence of my marvelous music major friends, one by one. Before one left, another would take their place. Even until the very end of the day, I was in the constant presence of friends, old and new. But I learned something from my conversations with each one of those people. I felt something exciting that I missed deeply – the opportunity for expression, not mere subjectivity, but that which isn’t tainted by the opinions of the masses. We are not laymen, lowly citizens whose voices are desperate to be heard. We do not even care for such an aspect, because we are already aware of the talents which we hold, and those are what we live and breathe. They are a way of life, a culture. The creativity of the mind which can bend the ordinary into the extraordinary is a magnificent feature of life.
During my stay at the slab, I watched a video on YouTube, randomly, concerning numbers in series. I’m not sure why, but the video was found in my recommendations, so I decided to view it. One of the topics which was explained in depth was an explanation of the series summation of all the natural numbers, that is, 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + … + infinity. This series sums to -1/12. Yeah, a negative number. Every positive integer added from 1 to infinity is equal to this number. It was bizarre to learn at first, even with the assurance that many applications of this identity appear in the real world, for example in quantum physics and string theory. It was explained that I had learned correctly in elementary calculus that this series diverges (though even that isn’t always intuitive). However, it simply diverges due to our standardized definition of convergence. We could ingrain this principle and forget that math is a language that continues to add theorems and definitions, to build upon itself. We could forget that every series that we have discarded as divergent could belong to a family of differing kinds of non-traditional convergences. With other summation techniques which allow for more and more series which were thought before to be divergent to now have finite values, we can then apply these definitions in our favor. It isn’t cheating, it is simply real life. And I think that is the way that the creative mind must also work. I love mathematics, and though we may only take the parts which we need to punch the numbers of our tools and machines, it has within it a deep and spacious reservoir of understanding, one that can teach us about the concept of infinity and how truth, elegance, and beauty are not only extremely relevant to one another but also oftentimes seem to be the exact opposite of what they are.
Maybe sometime I will see the connection between the innovation of the artist with the engineer. Those Renaissance men seemed to have it down, but it seems there needs to be more than elementary knowledge to produce the works and notebooks of Leonardo and Petrarch. The creative world seems to be my calling, but I think I must be patient for this role to become fulfilled in my career. Today was a breath of divine air, and a good reminder to me that I still have something there. My world is not gone, and though it has lain dormant for a long while, I know that I am being looked out for. And there is definitely a need for one to go back and ensure that the good of the past is not forgotten, nor buried.