Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Mathing, Sanskrit, and the Alcohol-Free Experiment | Pinwheel Midcentury Modern Mobile by Mark Leary

Mobiles:
Pinwheel, Evergreen


On math
“Is it possible to be left with more after you subtract?” crow asked.
“Of course,” replied fox. “It all depends on what you remove.”

Thoughts while making
As a kid, zero confused me. I didn’t understand how nothing could add up to something and more nothings could add up to much more somethings.

Add a zero to a 1 and it becomes 10 more than nothing. Add two zeros and it becomes 100 times more.

Mathing has never been my strong suit. I took Math for Liberal Arts Students in college. We drew a lot of pictures. And used our words more than calculators.

1001 days ago, I decided to try to understand zero differently. The experiment: what would happen if I subtracted alcohol from my equation? I was curious whether the subtraction would add up to something more.

One of the first words I learned while studying Sanskrit at Berkeley years ago was Śūnyatā. It’s commonly translated as zero. Butandalso as nothing, empty, or void.

Fascinating thing about Sanskrit is that if you add an “a” to any word it becomes its opposite. Sort of. For example, if you add an “a” (aśūnyatā), nothing not only becomes non-emptiness, but completion.

In the thousand days since, I’ve come to realize the same is true in my experiment. But instead of adding an “a” to the zero, I added a “me” and learned that *I* am – as you are – the common denominator of any equation that matters. And that no matter how many zeros you add or take away, you are always enough exactly as you are.

What’s one thing you’d like to see multiplied in yourself or zeroed out in the world right now?

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