Mathematically correct


Mathematics was a subject I never liked in my schooldays. Thanks to my phobia for calculations, I could never get its basics right. Instead of understanding things, I chose to bank on my memorising skills. Parroting textbook was never my calling but I made it an exception for maths. After Class XII, when I somehow managed to cope with limits, derivatives and integration, I decided to bid adieu to the subject. 
A refrain I often hear from people makes me look at the subject from a different perspective. It’s the theory negatives they apply to life and relationships. They believe that two negatives make a positive. It’s half-truth.
Mathematical equations seem to offer innovative ways to explain intricacies of human relationships. I happened to attend a corporate training session where a trainer was explaining how two negatives add to a negative. I have a different angle and guess what, I go parallel to the subject, dislike for which, I’ve already displayed. I believe human relations are peculiar. If you add negatives, the outcome is negative but cross them and it’s positive.
The trainer’s philosophy made me revisit the basics of mathematics and I wondered why I had so much fear for the subject. Our assumptions and set of believes are intriguing. We are conditioned to think in a particular manner and form opinions. As we grow, evolve and learn to think independently, we may understand everything we believed in need not be that way. Why mathematics alone, I said to myself, I needed to assess my entire sets of beliefs.
Having been brought up at Jamsande, a nondescript place in Konkan, studying in Marathi medium, I was somehow uncomfortable telling people the name of my school. After all, I had to interact with the convent-bred world! While attending an inter-school camp in Mumbai as a Class VIII student, I saw everyone boasting of being a student of saint-someone. Not to be outdone, I said I was from Saint Jamsande High school. Now I laugh at myself, probably louder than those present did when I actually said it!
Coming back to our trainer, I realised that though I am still poor at calculations, my interpretation of basics of the subject has evolved. Now I understand why they call mathematics more of an art than a science. The trainer’s theory of negatives was indeed half-truth. He had ignored the fact that multiplication of two negatives makes a positive.
The sign of multiplication, X, resembles crossed swords. Is that the reason why people usually feel clashes of views are unwelcome? Probably, they feel that a negative outlook, when opposed, would yield negativity. It’s not so. It actually stands corrected bringing a positive outcome.
Two views clashing is a positive thing. Multiplication is growth. Clashes, fights and creative differences don’t mean unsettling of things but progress. Why avoid right fights? Instead, we can convert them into positive solutions. Take out of your equation the tendency to avoid confrontations and find easy solutions. Do I need to say this applies only to a clash between two matured individuals? After all, people with opinions will only differ.
No sweat if you still hate calculations. No need to learn technicalities of the subject. Instead, master the art of turning negative into positive.
- KanChan

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