I knew I loved math, but didn’t realize I had a proclivity for it until I took my SAT in high school. Regardless, when I first arrived in college I had to take two remedial math classes that I did not receive credit for, because my high school failed to provide me with the education needed for college
It was my first calculus class that really changed the game for me. I recall it well. Our class had a teaching assistant and he had lost control of the room. It was chaos, with a lot of goofing off while he was attempting to teach us. By the end of the semester I was getting a D. It was impossible for me to learn in that environment.
Then, just before the final exam, I had a satori experience. The meaning of calculus suddenly became clear to me. I scored so well on the last test that I emerged with a B. But, my grade was not the trophy. It was the insight. I plunged into mathematics with vigor!
I changed my major to math and took classes in topology and linear algebra. I helped to teach the mathematics portion of a special class on the history and philosophy of space and time. And I had the good fortune to meet Paul Halmos, a luminary on our campus who wrote one of my favorite texts, Finite-Dimensional Vector Spaces. Math had opened a portal for me into complicated and complex patterns, giving form to what had only been intuitive for me until that point.
I learned that insights can unexpectedly break through and transform your life. But, I also learned to look for the clues that lead to new territory, and those clues are often found in passion.
What might you do this week that taps your passion, whether or not it appears useful?