For Everyday Life
Perhaps the expression, life is what you make it is still relevant today in spite of some people`s personal beliefs which are rooted in the power of fate or destiny rather than in decision or action.
After working for several months or years, sometimes we feel the desire to go on vacation in order to recharge the batteries. One day I made a choice to visit the mighty Victoria Falls, and chose the mode of transport I would use to get to that world-famous tourist centre, also known as the Adventure Capital of Africa or the Adrenalin Capital of Africa. The linking buzzword between my choice of destination-- southern Africa`s safari hub and my choice of transportation is none other than mathematics.
I am a teacher by profession and a poet by avocation. As an educator and author, I use my laptop almost on a daily basis for compiling classroom lessons, charts and graphs, for writing and data storage purposes. I consider any working computer as a mathematical genius. Teaching has been known to be a noble profession. Like any job, what makes it noble is how one applies mathematics to one`s personal and professional schedules. Without that mathematical flair, it can be an ignoble and thankless occupation. Jamie Lyn Beatty Thi is of the opinion that, “Jobs fill your pocket, but adventures fill your soul”. Travelling begets memories. No amount of money can buy our recollections of our experiences. We are the best witnesses of our travels and experiences.
A person who hits a jackpot and then goes on a spending spree without accounting for each and every cent is like a businessperson who cannot work out how much he/she needs to charge for his/her services or goods. Evidently, the danger of failing to think logically or mathematically can lead into a disaster no matter how much money one has.
Along the Victoria Falls road, I saw few thriving businesses and farms. I knew that the owners had basic models which detailed their business concepts like procedures, processes, practices, production costs, staff wages, assets and liabilities. Some shop attendants were doing some stocktaking and bookkeeping. Mathematics was certainly at work.
Of course, I do not need to be a rocket scientist or a mathematician to know that the salary and perks of the job need to be enough to keep the family ship afloat. If it is not enough, mathematics tells me that there is sufficient reason to jump ship jobwise. That means that the first port of call before one signs a contract is to examine the overall value of the job. For example, I would do a calculation of my expenses.
How much money would go into fundamental bills like rentals, utilities, car insurance, car maintenance, house maintenance, fuel consumption, school fees, life cover and health cover? How much money would I save after paying off these bills? Would I have enough for capital projects like extending one`s residential property or investing for a business venture like a café? Would I have enough money to spoil myself and my family once in a while with outings and gifts or to keep up with technological advances in terms of household gadgets, laptops and mobile phones?
I remember that before I embarked on the trip to the Victoria Falls, which is also known as “Mosi oa-Tunya” (“the smoke that thunders”), I had to consider time and the duration. Would it be a two-day adventure? Would I go there by car or by train or by plane? Being a big fan of safari, I decided to go there between May and October when the vegetation is comparatively low and animals are easily spotted. Of course, this happened after determining figures in terms of the temperature and the best time to visit Victoria Falls, and the specific experiences I sought to invest myself and time in. Being fearful of a night safari, I chose a morning drive, and told myself that next time perhaps I would go for an afternoon one. Some people chose rented bikes or rented cars for touring purposes but I said: canoe and copter take me away. Next time, maybe a horseback expedition.
Why not? The Victoria Falls is not only a World Heritage Site, it is also an incredible adventure travel centre. If mathematics is the abstract science of numbers, quantity and space, then statistics is the science that deals with the collection, organisation, displaying, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data. Figures feature predominantly in statistics. There is a general belief that figures do not lie and are synonymous with neutrality, evidence and exactness.
If statistics are anything to go by, the Falls is one of Africa`s paramount, most-loved and most-visited attractions and is considered as one of the world`s most striking natural phenomena. For example, Victoria Falls registered over seventeen thousand arrivals just in the first quarter of 2018. Statistically speaking, the Victoria Falls Bungee Jump is consistently considered and selected as one of the top five adrenalin experiences on the entire planet. It is a sure momentary experience that releases adrenaline into the body. We use mathematics to time experiences. Mathematics always comes in handy. The Victoria Falls Bungee Jump takes four magic seconds of freefall and one hundred and eleven metres of perfect adrenalin leap in “no man`s land”. That is awesome. Talk of the adrenalin rush doing what it knows best—increasing the heart rate and the speed at which the brain works, thereby causing a gush in energy. Talk of an adventurous jump that triggers a fight-or-flight response with a life of its own!
Before arriving in Victoria Falls, I had done my mathematics on things like food and accommodation. I had reminded myself of the fact that Victoria Falls offers countless exciting things. Obviously since I did not have limitless funds and time, I had to choose those activities I could afford. I had an unforgettable time flying above the rare Falls in a helicopter, white water-rafting and going on a sunset river cruise. There is no gainsaying the fact that there is a mathematical formula to all this. There is no aviation or an expedition without figures. The number of people and animals I saw, even the birds and their nests, the insects and their habitations, all exemplified and glorified some mathematical patterns in nature`s drapery. Our everyday life is decorated with mathematical decisions and actions.
It is clear that it took some numerical and logical thinking to have such a memorable trip. Needless to say that we need a basic understanding of mathematics in life in order solve some of our challenges or to develop economically and intellectually. Mathematics enables us to make sense of the figures and facts of our dynamic life. Can climate change be effectively addressed without concerted efforts and relevant budgets? No. The number of family members or friends one has, the doctor`s prescription, the challenges to sustainable development caused by climate change –all these need mathematical steps to carry out.
Life is a journey, and the places and things we experience are part of that voyage. Saint Augustine once said, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only one page”. There are many places we wish we could explore. One of the aspirations on Susan Sontag’s wish list was “everywhere”. Actually, she put it in a remarkable way like this “I haven’t been everywhere, but it`s on my list”. Mathematics is a systematic application of matter. If we pay careful attention to it, our lives tend to be methodical. Mathematics is an antithesis of chaos and nondescript elements.
Architectural beauty is synonymous with mathematical clarity. Think about beautifully-designed houses and well-engineered bridges and dams one cannot take one`s eyes off. I have had the pleasure of seeing such creations in the Middle East. Mathematics can be viewed as the mother of all creations.
Every day, every activity and every move I undertake is mathematical in nature: from choosing the time to sleep or wake up in the morning, to the steps one takes into the bathroom, the number of cups and teaspoons one takes during tea, to the dress code and colours and departure time one opts for. Every time l travel to a new place, new city or country, I am left amazed and enriched, but most importantly I become the chronicler of my journeys. Ibn Battuta says, “Travelling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
Mathematics is more than mere statistics. For it boosts the power of problem-solving, reasoning, and creativity. It is a cradle which houses and nurtures critical thinking, creative thinking and effective communication. On the importance of travelling and exploring the world, Robyn attractively and creatively sums it up like this,” We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”. Thanks for reading this story, guess what, you really made a good mathematical move.