The Things We Carry, like Disease-Ridden Insects
My stress dreams of late are about math. Specifically Pre-Calculus w/ Analysis. Or Pre-Calc w/ Anal as us kids used to call it on our cigarette breaks out by the field house. Or at the Homecoming Dance when you ran out of things to talk about with your date. Or, in another made up scenario that doesn’t at all resemble what I was really like in high school.
I keep dreaming that I’ve failed, and have to go back to high school for a semester and take this class if I want to hang my high school diploma high in my office. In my dreams, Mr. Dickerson comes over to my desk, slams down a blank piece of paper on my desk. “This is what I think of your ability to find define x variables!” he screams. “And, also, your new bangs? Too blunt, I think for your face shape.”
And then I burst into hiccuping tears–you know the kind where you can’t even manage to fully form a word because you’re sobbing so hard, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about you clearly haven’t opened your heart up very often.
I spent a lot of high school in hiccuping tears, come to think of it. And it seems most unfair that I can’t leave any of that behind, not even especially when I’m sleeping.
I remember several teachers explaining the popular applications of mathematics and its uses in the real world. It was important that we understood that these linear equations would haunt us later on, so if we never found the true x variable, we’d be lost in the modern world. We could never leave math behind us.
The truth is, we can’t leave anything behind us. Not really. We’re made up of those old failed exams, and crumpled homework assignments, and moments of despair in the girl’s bathroom right when you’re deciding whether or not to fake illness to get out of something.
I’ve changed a lot since high school. But, nose job notwithstanding, I can’t seperate who I was then from who I am today. It’s like in The Things They Carried. Whatever it is that they carried with them, stayed with them.
In the petri dish of life, as my physics professor used to say, everything sticks and then grows ample amounts of bacteria. The point being, that no matter what unpleasantness befell us in our past, it can’t be shaken off easily.
But I don’t mean to sound so negative. I’m not depressed or discouraged by this realization. Rather, I’m inspired to be more sympathetic. If you look at everyone, even people you really hate like CNN’s Candy Crowley or your high school math teacher, as people who’ve experienced heartbreak and staph infections and all sorts of misery, you feel less embittered.
Doesn’t work with like, Bashar Al-Assad, but I find it’s given me a new perspective at least on people who cut me off in traffic and then act like they didn’t expect me to rear end them.
Really, this is all I’m trying to say: