Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Professor and the Equation

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I had to take a calculus class my sophomore year of college. At the time I was a pre-med major with aspirations of living in a mud hut while saving children’s lives; a noble goal but ultimately not the correct life path for me. Math has never been my strong suit. In school, I could never get past letters being mixed with numbers in algebraic equations. In my mind, X is a letter, not a space holder, and A + B – C holds no numerical value so how can it equal 15?

So there I was, two-thirds of the country away from home, going to class every day trying to bail my sinking grade out with a thimble of understanding when one day the professor didn’t show. Five minutes passed. Ten minutes. Fifteen. At this point about half of the class got up and walked out, thrilled with the prospect of a free afternoon. The only ones who stayed were the brainiacs…and me. Twenty minutes. A few more students who didn’t need to worry about passing with anything less than a 95 slipped out the door, but instead of whooping about playing Frisbee golf, they were planning on filing a report. It was at that point I slipped my own two-hundred-dollar textbook into my thirty-dollar backpack. I no sooner zipped it closed and stood with the remaining four or five students when who should coming running through the door short of breath, loose-tied, disheveled-haired, and red-faced but the professor.

The door slammed closed behind him as he stretched his arms to block our panicked escape. “Nobody move! I’m so sorry I’m late. I got so wrapped up in this equation I’ve been working on I completely lost track of time! I’m giving you all an A for the day for waiting. Now let’s make the most of these last twenty minutes.”

Apart from being relieved about getting a few badly needed extra points, it baffled me how someone could be so engrossed in a math problem he could forget about his class. And then this week came along. Tuesday came and went without me updating my blog, then Wednesday…it’s now Thursday and I realized I’ve been so wrapped up in a new project of my own I’d completely forgotten about you!

I’ve come to realize over the course of the past eight years, it doesn’t matter if its writing, playing music, saving lives, or even solving complex math equations — if you’re truly passionate about something, you’re going to lose all track of time at some point. I loved working as a volunteer in the Emergency Room. I enjoyed helping others and shadowing the doctors as they listened to the patient and tried to determine exactly what was wrong and how to best treat the illness or injury. But looking back, I was never as passionate about medicine as I have become about writing. I have never felt more at home with myself as I do with a pen in my hand and words on a page. And with one other exception, it’s rare that I’ve felt as passionate about a specific project as I do about the one I’m working on right now. A project I hope to share with you very soon.

What are you passionate about when it comes to writing? Do you thrill at the thought of creating a brand new world? Do you forget about the roast in the oven while carefully crafting a devotional article? Or do you tend to seek the truth through non-fiction? Whatever it is, I hope that like my professor, you throw yourself so fully into your writing that everything else is forgotten for a few extra minutes today. And then again tomorrow.

Oh, and by the way, my professor managed to solve that equation by the end of the semester and I walked out of that class with the only C I’ve ever been proud of despite bombing the final, and largely due to the kindness of a man who saw me diligently struggling through the concepts and continually asking for help from him and a couple of other classmates.

1 comment:

  1. It's a needed reminder to recall the thrill of writing. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in everything else - what if I don't get the editor's name right, what if this sentence gets me rejected, what if I forget how to come up with ideas? - that the mere passion is lost. Keeping that passion foremost in our minds and hearts can, I think, win that writing battle most days.

    For me, I've got to say that the thrill hits me when the idea first strikes. I always think, 'Oh, cool. And what kind of world is *this* in?'