Sam kicked his legs back and forth, enjoying the noise that came from his pant legs rubbing against each other. Mother had surprised him with new play clothes the day before, his previous ones finally having been worn beyond repair. This fabric was brand new, and the boy was anxious to break it in.

His view from his family’s rooftop was unrivaled. No, it wasn’t the tallest house in the city, but the closest to it’s walls. Mother didn’t like it, said it was a safety problem, but Sam loved it. Every morning he rose before anyone else in the house and silently claimed his perch. From there his legs hung over the edge as he sat back and watched the sun slowly rise.

Mother would have scolded him for such trips, but his sister was the only one who knew. It took a weekly bribe of two sweets but she kept his secret. Often she asked him why he bothered with the whole silly venture, and the only answer he could give was that it made him feel “smallish.”

When the sun peeked out from behind the mountains it made the distant trees and hills glint with gold, and steadily lit the whole landscape before him. Miles and miles away from the walls of the city grass and rock came into his view. On some days, if the weather was right, even the silhouettes of other cities could be seen. Such a spectacle dwarfed this town he called home. Towering mountains made these walls seem childish and far-stretching fields made the small boy feel like no more than an insignificant speck on the land.

It was an overwhelming feeling, one the lad was too young to find the words to describe. He simply felt smallish.

It wasn’t an intimidating feeling, really. He wasn’t discouraged by the vastness around him. On the contrary, he found it immensely exciting. Such a large land was filled with so much potential. There were numberless places to discover and explore, numberless beasts to conquer; Numberless people to meet, and numberless stories to hear and to tell. While some might shudder at the thought of their own insignificance, Sam marveled at the thought of his own individuality. So much to do, to see, to find, and so many decisions linking it all. No two lives were the same, and every person and story was unique.

 

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On many days, this was a forest of beauty and of comfort. Today it seemed it was the forest of hands. From the rot and debris of their corpses, dark, rigid arms stretched forth gnarled hands, pleading with the sky for an unknown something. Was it for mercy or for forgiveness? Were these the desperate fingers of victims or perpetrators? Was there a question in their grasp? The fog hid and distorted their struggles when perhaps all they wanted was to know why. Why, when so many trees were allowed to live in the glorified sunshine, were they trapped here in this world of darkness and mist?

Here, the sun, that guardian that was meant to nourish these trees, had turned its back on them. All of their pleading, and they were met only with cold silence. No gentle rays through the mist, not even the singing of birds pierced the grove. A grave feeling of forced indifference shut out the desperation of the hands that sought to find an answer. Only a single being moved here, separate from the plight of the forest around him.

This man, eyes down and shoulders hunched, resolutely shut out the situation around him as he walked. There was nothing he could do. Those hands, those pleas, they would never get what they were looking for. They would remain that way, perhaps forever. He couldn’t stand to acknowledge it, that there was nothing that could be done. So he walked on, interrupting the scene only with the quiet crunch of leaves beneath his boots and the white ghost of breath when he exhaled.

Despite his own determination, this man couldn’t deny the reflection of the forest in him. His eyes held the cold of the air, the absence of sunlight, the forced indifference. His lips, tight, betrayed the desperation of the trees with an occasional break, an inexplicable twitch. The gnarled hands were his own, covered by gloves and clutching a package between them. It was a grocery bag, holding a mysterious brown box.

Perhaps I was meant to interrupt this event, or perhaps I was meant to stay far, far away. Whatever the case, it’s where I ended up. There was something about that day that drew me out to wandering the streets downtown. After so long I found myself transitioning from city to suburb, and after following a set of railroad tracks I soon left the buildings of civilization altogether. The fog was heavy here, but hands in my pockets, I continued to wander. I was too caught up in day dreaming to realize that I was right in the thick of a quiet grove of trees with little idea of which way I’d come or which way was out. I swung around, trying to grasp some sense of direction or familiarity from the forest, but it gave me nothing.  Then I heard the quiet crunching that signaled another being.

It was an older man, just above middle age from what I could tell. His eyes met mine and he paused. His face melted into a tired smile, partially obscured by a lightly greying beard. “Hello, young lady. Not often I meet folks out here. Are you visiting Doris?” His voice cut through the silence in a way that was almost startling, but he seemed too calm to notice.

“Hello. Well, no sir, I was taking a walk and I think I actually just got myself lost.”

He laughed and nodded knowingly. “I thought so. There are not many that want to deal with this darned fog what don’t have to walk through it to get home. If you want to come with me the road by my house leads right on back to town.” He seemed to notice my hesitation and shrugged. “Unless you want to try and find your way back out of here, it’s up to you.” The man turned and continued on his way.

As much as I disliked the idea of following a total stranger, I had little choice if I wanted to escape this isolated place. So, I caught up to him and tried to keep up. After a few moments of silence, I made an attempt at small talk.

“I guess I’m lucky I caught you out here when I did. Were you out shopping?” I asked, noticing the bag in his hands.

He let out a sigh and his eyes turned to the ground. “Yeah. It’s a present for my boy.” There was a half-smile on his face and his eyes spoke of a kind fondness.

“Oh,” I smiled, “you’re a father then.” It gave me at least a little more comfort to know that I was being escorted by a family man. “Is it his birthday?”

The look on his face went stolid, then sad. “Nah.” Brow furrowed, he shook his head. “I lost my temper with him yesterday. Kids, they get upset easy, you know. Not his fault, I just… Well, I told him I’m sorry but I wanted to make it up to him.”

I nodded knowingly, looking at the man with a thoughtful admiration. I’d had my share of being yelled at by parents. The fact that he was actually admitting his own faults and making up for it like this was something of a surprise, however. “He’s lucky to have someone as thoughtful as you.”

The man only grunted in response, his face growing stolid once again.

Wanting to keep things lighthearted I changed the subject, and as we continued to walk we talked about the weather, the president, politics, and how to cook a good hot dog. We were both laughing at a bad relish pun when we finally reached the man’s lonely house: a small wood cabin.

“Well, here we are. Thanks for walking an old guy to his home. Could you hold this for a second? Got to find my keys.” He handed me his grocery bag as he began searching his pockets. As I weighed it in my hands my curiosity got the better of me.

“If you don’t mind me asking, what was it you got your son?”

“Oh, it’s one of those big packs of crayons. He’s a drawer that one, a real artist.” The man laughed and then, still unable to find his keys, took off his jacket. I hadn’t been able to see his shirt before this, and it quickly caught my eye. “He likes to draw people, mostly.” Splotches of bleach splattered the front and the sleeves. “He makes up his own stories, like an illustrator for books.” They must have been old, and what needed bleaching in a log cabin? “Goodness, I’m sorry; these darned keys are always hiding from me.” The man took off his gloves and set them on the ground. The color immediately drained from my face.

His hands.

The trees behind me pleaded, asking why. They begged me to stay, begged me to answer. They begged me to leave, to forget. They ushered me forward, pushing me into finding mercy, into solving the questions of a victim. They pulled me back, dragging me into giving forgiveness, into leaving the perpetrator be.

“I told him not to draw the wife.” A sigh, the key was finally found. “Ah but kids they just… They don’t get the sensitive things. Sometimes they just don’t get ‘no.’ Sometimes words just aren’t enough to make em stop…” His door unlocked, he turned and held out a hand to me, gesturing for the grocery bag. I could even smell it: the dried, metallic scent of a now dark crimson. Dried, silent, subtle, but at the same time stark and screaming of something horribly wrong. For goodness sakes, it went all the way up to his elbows. Numbly I handed the package over. Oblivious to my state he smiled and thanked me again. “The roads right over that way. You follow it a few minutes, you’ll find the city. Goodbye now!” The door shut.

On many days, this was a forest of beauty and of comfort. Today it seemed it was the forest of hands. Gnarled fingers snatched at secrets, searching for them, hiding them. I should have done something. I should have told someone. Instead, I left. I walked away, down that road, until I was back in the safe ignorance of the city. I didn’t stop until I was shielded by structures of metal and concrete, away from hands of bark. The sun and I, we turned our back and pretended not to see, pretended not to know the answers, leaving the question of mercy and forgiveness to hide in a little wood house in the fog.

I’ve heard that there are some who refuse to see a loved one after they have passed on. They want the image in their mind to remain that of the person while they were alive and not have it overridden by their death. It’s a concept I wish I had thought of early last summer. I wish I had stopped at the end of that street, turned my bike around, and continued pedaling home. Well, not home, just to my mother’s house.

No, on that day I did go home. For the first time in two years I was riding my bike to the only place that had ever been home for me. I don’t know what brought me there in the end, but I think it was denial. It was stumbling on the listing online and seeing these real estate websites describe it in such unfitting, foreign words. It was seeing the pictures of what it had become and disbelieving that any of it was really true.

Two years prior, when my Dad first made us leave this house, we took only a bag of clothes each. My siblings and I were promised that we would come back for the rest of our things. However, every weekend living at my stepmother’s house brought another excuse and another way of pushing it off. It was our Mom who told us in the end.

“I drove by, there’s a bunch of stuff and a dumpster in the driveway?”

We begged, but he wouldn’t let us go and see, he wouldn’t tell us what was going on. It “wasn’t our business.” It wasn’t long before the magic word was finally revealed: “Foreclosed.” By the time we knew, it was too late. By the time he finally quit the lies and the excuses, everything was gone. Sold or thrown away, we didn’t know. It didn’t matter anymore.

As I stood there staring at the corpse that was once my childhood home, sixteen years’ worth of possessions and memories came crashing down on me. The photos online were generous, they must have been old. On one side the grass had been ripped from the yard, and on the other, weeds and tree saplings had grown into an untamable jungle. The mouth of a front window gaped open in the expression of one who had been brutally betrayed just before death. Through it I could see inside the body of the house, stripped bare and entirely empty.

It is one thing to have to let go of a house and get used to a new one, but this, for me, was different. This home was a symbol. It was the anchor at the end of a rope that I had held onto for the past several years of sailing through otherwise impossible waters. It was the only proof of simpler, happier times. It was the only proof that once upon a time my life, my family, had been whole. Now here I was, having pulled up the rope only to find nothing at the end. This should have been my chance to say goodbye, to shut the door once and for all and move on. Unfortunately though, this door that had been shut for me and taken briskly away.

The weight of everything settled heavily on my shoulders. I could no longer hide from the daily storms that life brought me. I couldn’t fall back on memories and wish that somehow everything would go back to the way it was. This was the undeniable nail in the coffin telling me that those days were up and I could no longer turn to them for my happiness. It was a painful realization, having the door closed and gone. As I got on my bike and began to ride away, however, I also knew that this was my chance to seek out and open new doors. Sure, it still felt like that happiness had been taken from me, but now I had no choice but to go out and make my own.

I had seen the end that had been forced upon me, and it was time for me to finally make a new start.

There is light in those green eyes

With so much time yet to brighten.

They’ve still seen too few years to be called wise.

 

Sometimes it rivals the sunrise

With ambition to move a mountain.

There is light in those green eyes.

 

Other times filled with only tired sighs,

Hopes that have been let down too often.

They’ve still seen to few years to be called wise.

 

Seeing so many hellos, so many goodbyes

Seeking new ends and places to begin.

The light in those green eyes.

 

To some there may be a surprise,

Seeing the scars when they were forced to darken,

They’ve still seen too few years to be called wise.

 

As discouraged as they may have been by lies

There’s still so much to see in this world of men.

There is light in those green eyes.

They’ve still seen too few years to be called wise.

This is a concept we learn pretty quickly but not all of us learn exactly why. The most I was told was that it just doesn’t work because you’re dividing by nothing, and that kind of wording made it sound complicated enough that I simply took it as all I would ever understand. Recently my calculus professor explained it to us in an incredibly simple way that made me question, yet again, why we aren’t taught these kinds of things back in elementary school.

So to start: Multiplication is basically a whole bunch of addition.

Say you have 2×5.
It’s basically 5+5 or 2+2+2+2+2

6×7
6+6+6+6+6+6+6 or 7+7+7+7+7+7
6 added seven times or 7 added six times.
That’s why we read it “six times seven.”
Times.

Division, of course, is just the opposite.
Division is just a whole bunch of subtraction.

12/4 is
12-4=8
8-4=4
4-4=0

What you’re doing is subtracting that number until you get 0. In this case you subtracted 4 3 times. Therefore, 12/4 = 3.

SO where does the zero issue come in?

12/0 is basically

12-0=12.
… Wait let’s try that again.
12-0=12.
Hmm maybe again.
12-0=12.
Nope. Not getting anywhere.

THAT is why you can’t divide by zero. You can subtract 0 again and again and again but you just can’t get anywhere. It’s as simple as that.

So when people say “Oh crap that thing exploded, someone must have divided by zero!” they’re actually highly overestimating the complexity of that operation. All they’re really implicating is that some foolish person was busy trying to subtract nothing instead of monitoring the dangerous chemicals they were put in charge of.

Also the whole “In Soviet Russia, zero divides by you” thing – that’s perfectly fine. Zero can divide by you or anyone else it wants to.
0/you is basically

0-you=
NOPE done it’s already 0 it took 0 times to get it to 0. That’s the answer. 0.

And that’s how zero and division work.

So to sum it all up: No internet, dividing by zero is not the destroyer of worlds or the creator of black holes. It’s just silly.

I know that many people find it impossible to be a person of faith and a person of science.
A person of prophets and of professors.
I manage it. How? Because I can say that I know that I know nothing.

I’ve met some who don’t bother with school because “my reward for faith in the next life is all that matters.”
I’ve met some who don’t bother with church because “what I learn in this life is all that matters.”
I bother with both because when I die, I want to know what questions to ask.
I want to know how to go about pulling back the rest of the curtain and knowing how He did it all.
Because I will never be satisfied.
Because I know that no matter how much I read and no matter how much I think I know, I don’t.

Every time I believe I understand the contents of a room a door is opened in the back that I hadn’t even seen before.
A door that leads to other rooms and other hallways filled with other doors.
A new way to understand this Earth.
A new way to understand why we’re on it.
A new way to see everything, and a new way to question it all again and again.

This isn’t the hard part, though, the questioning.
The hard part comes in between philosophy and practicality.

I know that chairs are for sitting on and that if I sit on one, one that is sturdy, it will be solid and it will hold me.
But I also know now that if I were to sit there infinitely that, eventually, the atoms that make up that chair will arrange in such a way, that I will fall through it.
I should fear chairs.
Logically I should fear that at the moment I sit on one it just might be that moment when those atoms are going to let me fall.

Ignorance is not bliss, ignorance is sanity.

Apples come from apple trees, the biological purpose of an apple is, like many fruit, to provide nutrition for the seed, give it a way to grow and change and eventually become like its parent.
Apples are placentas.
I know that don’t want to eat a placenta.
But as I bite into an apple I don’t consider what I know comparatively about apples, I remember that I know that they’re healthy and that I’m hungry.

Sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit, because I do know things.
Sometimes I wish I didn’t because sometimes it’s nice to eat artificial raspberry candy without knowing that it might have been flavored by beaver gonad secretions.
Sometimes I wish I did because it’s hard to learn a new program when I keep clicking some unknown button that ruins the display.

No matter the case though, neither frustration or cringing can warrant a stop to discovery.

I recognize that knowing things is hard.
The effort to get there and the consequences of arrival; both can bring headaches but both bring progress.

Maybe I’m greedy, because, like a hoarder, I am never satisfied with what I have.
I always want more.
Maybe I’m a philanthropist, because I want to share what I’ve got.
Even if it isn’t much.
Even if it’s a weird fact you didn’t actually want to have on your mind.

There’s a fear in having your mind blown, in glimpsing the depth of your own ignorance.
You can take that fear in a couple different directions, but I often take it in both.
There’s sadness in realizing that, for all of your work and effort, there’s concepts and ideas that you haven’t even scraped at and perhaps never will.
A feeling of inadequacy and small insignificance.
But there’s another feeling.
A feeling of happiness because there is so much room for growth because you understand further just how magnificent and big you really are.

You’re a child of God with a unique spirit and the potential far beyond human understanding, a potential that stretches far beyond this life.
You’re a conglomerate of atoms and materials from countless galaxies and stars that blended together to create the miracle that is life.

Regardless of what anyone does or does not believe I know that we as humans are magnificent and capable of doing and knowing so much.
Good and bad
Big and small.

So.
In the end, what do I know?
I know that layers in Photoshop are essential to using the program.
I know that it took me a long time to master them, and I know that I can still master them further.
I know that there are some things that I probably shouldn’t talk about while people are eating, especially if it’s a raspberry Jolly Rancher. Or an apple. Or an oyster from the Rockies.
I know that I want to be as open minded as I can both about religion and about school, but I know that no one is perfect.

Despite it all, I know that I will never stop exploring.

I will never stop asking.

I know that I know nothing and I know that I know some things.

And I want to know even more.

So you have a number line, from 0 to 1.

<——-0———–1——>

Now say you have a ruler, you hold it up to these, and measure. The length from 0 to 1 is one unit. Right? Right.
So now. What is the length of 0? Not 0 to 1 just 0. Well, it’s 0 of course. What’s the length of 1? 0.

Okay what if we split it up?
<—-0–1/4–1/2–3/4–1—->
What’s the length of 1/4? 0. 1/2? 0. 3/4? 0.
All of these, these rational numbers and integers, each of them have a length of 0. So where does the one unit measurement from 0 to 1 come from? Irrational numbers.

Between 0 and 1 there are more than infinite irrational numbers. More than infinite.
Say for instance you have these irrational numbers.
{0.A11A12A13…,
0.A21A22A23…,
0.A31A32A33…}
Sure it looks like with this you could count them all, but the thing is you can have
0.A21A11A13… You can have infinite combinations of numbers with infinite length.
They are by definition uncountable. And that’s where you get 1 unit. Each number in and of itself is of 0 length but you have so many more than infinite irrational numbers crammed between there that you get a length.

To put it into perspective if you had a box filled with all of the Real numbers, meaning all integers and rational numbers and irrational numbers, you would have 100% chance of pulling out an irrational number. Not 99.99999%, 100%.

It’s all so interesting, and such a fundamental concept of numbers. So why have I not learned until now, until I reached college and happened to have a mathematician for a teacher who cared about going and filling the gaps in my education? As he wrote all of this and more up on the board he told us that it really wouldn’t be that long before this kind of knowledge simply disappeared. Until it was gone, until no one knew about it anymore. Because no one would teach it. Concepts like this should be introduced in elementary school. Mathematical concepts like this are so fascinating. It depresses me to imagine that I was told I was getting a “superior” education with the International Baccalaureate program in high school. It didn’t even scrape the kinds of concepts I’m learning now.

I don’t know about other countries. But public education in the US is suffering. You shouldn’t have to be going into more directly mathematical fields to learn these kinds of things. You would think they’d be more fundamental.

Not to mention the things that are being taught are being taught so poorly. At the University of Utah one of the most consistently failed classes is College Algebra. Algebra. We shouldn’t even need this class! But no, not even that is getting the concepts in most people’s heads correctly. The first few weeks of my calculus class is, unavoidably, being spent learning simple algebra concepts that we’ve never heard of or hardly absorbed because we just can’t go onto these more complicated things without that foundational knowledge.

If ever I was to leave my ambitions in computers, it would be to become a teacher for this exact reason. To teach the things that aren’t on the simplified, dumbed down curriculum. What sucks too though is that I have had teachers that tried to do this, that went out of their way to teach us the cool things we should have been learning but weren’t. 2 were punished for it and ended up leaving to entirely other school districts because of the crap they were putting up with from administrators. Another got complaints from students and parents because the kids didn’t want to learn. They were so used to the simple packets, “read this textbook and regurgitate it then get the grade, forget everything, and move on” method of learning that they didn’t want to try. They didn’t want to explore and discover new topics, they didn’t want to expand their thinking and philosophy, they didn’t want to use their brains and think critically. They wanted to be told step by step how to get the grade and leave the class, gaining nothing from it but a GPA.

In the end of everything my GPA was crap in high school. My grades were crap. Why? I didn’t want to waste my time throwing up memorized crap onto the packets that were used in place of teaching and interaction. I didn’t want to write papers on studies and works that other people wrote while I could have been learning and discovering the things they wrote about and truly explore them for myself.

If college weren’t so expensive, if I wasn’t already drowning in student loans, I would never want to graduate. I would stay in school and keep learning everything I could because for the first time I have the chance to learn the things my teachers didn’t know or didn’t care to take the time to teach us. If i had (or as I like to think, once I do have) the money, I’d go back and get as many degrees as I can learning about as many subjects and areas as I can.

The thought that I could end up doing one thing, working in one field, for the rest of my life, terrifies me, no matter how interesting or how well paid that field is. Because there is so much out there. So many things I’m missing, so many things I want to see and at least begin to understand. That was the one question I could never answer: what do you want to do when you grow up? Because they want one answer. They want that one career you want to do for the rest of forever. I refuse to limit myself. Yes I want to make a living because you can’t get anywhere without being able to support yourself in something. But I don’t want to know everything there is to know about that one thing, that’s not me. “Narrow your scope” “narrow it down” “pick something” that’s what I was told growing up. Heck. No.