Swimming through the universe, one light-year at a time.

Swimming through the universe, one light-year at a time.
NCG 4631 "The Whale Galaxy"

Friday, March 01, 2013

SAD Fractals

Cold, foggy days are always difficult to someone of my disposition. I am pretty sure I have S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder) even after years of living in SF, I still cannot shake the cold weather blues. Life literally looks more optimistic when the sun is out, and the wind freezes my bones and aspirations. When I was younger I had held such a romantic ideal of the city - now I can't wait to escape to a warmer life.

Beginning my day with a slight argument with a fellow Math Labmate about whether the square root of x squared was the absolute value of x (it absolutely is, by the way, without a fucking doubt), the rest of my day seemed burdened with a realization that the path I am on, with all the mistakes I have made along the way, looks quite daunting and unrealistic. With a GPA and stress tolerance so low, a workload and demand for acute intelligence so high, it seems to me that I am setting myself up for failure. Whereas I used to look forward to tutoring, now it mostly just seems aggravating and time-consuming. And I am already short on time.

In Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park, mathematician Ian Malcolm mentioned the concept of fractals:

"There are good records of cotton prices going back more than a hundred years. When you study fluctuations in cotton prices, you find that the graph of price fluctuations in the course of a day looks basically like the graph for a week, which looks basically like the graph for a year, or for ten years. And that's how things are. A day is like a whole life. You start out doing one thing, but end up doing something else, plan to run an errand, but never get there... And at the end of your life, your whole existence has that same haphazard quality, too. Your whole life has the same shape as a single day."

Lately, the last line has been swarming terrifyingly in my head: Your whole life has the same shape as a single day. And as far as I am concerned, this has been dead on. Nothing that I have ever set out to do has truly been accomplished, not in a single day, a month, or in my lifetime so far.

If I really think about it, I would be perfectly content doing some specialized vocation, massage therapy, or something, and going to community college and just having plenty of time to learn and pursue trivial yet fascinating hobbies. But I don't want my whole life to be one be one big procrastination after the other. Being content with oneself is not the same as being happy with oneself. In many ways, I have no choice but to continue the hopeless path I am on, and slowly change my individual days to somehow shape a life contoured by something other than disappointment and depression.