Straighten Up

I was going to write a post last week, but I hit a dead end mid post and I didn’t really like the idea I had, and I accidentally deleted it, so this is the 2.0 version I guess, just not on the same subject. Regardless, let’s move into something I have to mention. Here’s the quick super cool news that happened to me last week. I tweeted to Emma Caulfield, the actress who plays Anya in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and she tweeted me back. There’s more of a story there, but I’m going to leave it at that unless I hear otherwise in the comments. I was tweeted by a celebrity who I love. #Awesome. Alright, with that out of the way, I’ll catch you all up in this one long run on sentence. Oh my gosh it’s the end of the year May is almost here and I can’t wait to graduate but I’m super anxious about a ******* senior thesis that is just going to ruin my life and I don’t know if I can handle it and I want to not do it because I think I can still graduate and go to college without it but other than that I want the A in the class and I’m really overall pretty happy. Okay cool. Subject of the post now.

I was walking home from school yesterday because of funky scheduling which allowed me to leave early on a Tuesday. My mind is borderline OCD. I’m always analyzing things numerically. I have to have the same number of footsteps per square/block of cement and if I don’t I have to balance it out in the next one so the average is the correct and appropriate number. I look for the shortest way to walk home, which we all know is as the crow flies, but that’s impossible unless I’m aiming to walk through walls and be hit by trucks and/or golf balls. So I obey the rules of the road and this earth and walk on the widewalk. However, I did start thinking about a couple of things in walking home. Here’s a tiny bit of simple math. We all know that the hypotenuse is a shorter distance than the sum of its two legs, which makes it the shortest path if you think of your walking destination as a series of hypotenuses (hypoteni?). This is kind of obvious, but generally we travel along these hypotenuses when we walk as much as possible. For example, if I want to cross a gymnasium, I want to walk straight across it to the other side, rather than along the two walls. Make sense? So I realized to myself that I should seize opportunities to travel along these hypotenuses. My main problem is the golf course next to my neighborhood. I cross a street and walk down a trail that skirts the edge of the golf course. The most direct path is from one corner of the golf course to the edge of my street, but because of golfers that isn’t a thing that can happen. So I follow the path, but I keep in mind that as I walk along that path, I still have hypotenuses I can take, albeit slightly less effective than the original one, so I’ll take those as often as I can as well. This is a lot of background to get to one deceptively simple idea. Much like how I travel the straightest and most direct hypotenuse when I can, I believe the same can be applied to problem solving. Here’s how I mean.

You have a problem and you don’t know where to start. It can be a physical, emotional, interpersonal, any kind of problem. We often think that these problems are impossible to solve or at least very difficult and can be complex and hard to measure or solve. I’m going to compare that to a circle. Circles are our problems. Circles don’t tessellate, they aren’t particularly sturdy when used in architecture, they’re very tough to measure in calculus and geometry and all that, and simply put they’re a nuisance. It doesn’t even have to be a circle. Anything with curves (no not you, ladies) can be a problem in this instance. Wouldn’t it be SO much easier to measure a square? A triangle? Figuring areas and perimeters is much simpler. Here’s what I’m going for. The straighter the better (and no, not you, gay people). Approach your problems from a “straight” perspective. Circles are actually an (in)finite number of points arranged in a circular pattern (it’s finite, but really really high number right next to infinity but that’s beside the point), and each of those points has a corresponding straight line. Here’s that philosophy. Your problems, while looking round, complex, and problematic, are actually just a series of straight lines that are capable of being traversed. So often we, myself included, look at our problems as circles that just can’t be “straightened” out (LOOK AT THAT! I’m surprising myself with how well this analogy is working for me). It’s easier to just not do anything (looking at you senior thesis). Really, though, it’s not as scary as we make it look. Our problems are all solvable. I’m not saying it’s magically become easy, but if you start to view your problems this way or just your life this way, I think something drastic could happen. Go for the most direct route across the golf course. If you can’t right away, skirt the golf course until that hypotenuse opens up for you.

Viewing things in the way that is most direct is, in my opinion, essential. It’s the fastest way, often the simplest and/or easiest way, and I think the most efficient way. You can save time, effort, money, whatever it is by optimizing things and making them less complicated. Set your sights to the other side of the river, then look at the stepping stones that will give you the the shortest way across. There’s no reason to over-complicate things, but we’re very good at it aren’t we? This post is an over-complication in a way. Here’s the short version. Keep It Simple Stupid. Doesn’t really take a whole lot more than that.

This is a pretty short post, but there’s only so far this concept can go, I think. But that’s good. I’m not usually a short poster, and that’s okay. I think this is the hypotenuse for getting my point across. You can all bask in my infinite wisdom for comparing all these life situations to silly little shapes. I think it worked pretty well, don’t you? Well, thanks for reading.


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