I've long forgotten many/most of the excruciatingly detailed derivations that I slogged through doing my college math and physics courses, which spanned 2 degrees over a decade. Yet it's the divergence theorem that I can always describe and remember. Why? Because of a stupid and yet powerful illustration by Craig Carter, my thermodynamics professor and thesis advisor.
I was so proud of my accomplishment: high jumping 4' while competing in my very first track meet during my 4th grade year at FFCS. It was the launch point for a 12 year career that ended with my senior year at MIT, where I upped my personal best to 6'6" (a full inch above my own height—another proud accomplishment). I had great coaches, reckless determination, and over a decade of practice.
Quick thought experiment: If you had to push a boulder up to the top of a plateau, would you do it all at once? A little at a time? Unless you're doing it for the exercise or for the sheer joy of repetitiveness, you're probably going to do it all at once because if you stop even just 10 feet short, mother nature (through wind, rain, and good ole fashion gravity) will likely push the boulder back down the slope and eliminate all your previous effort. Moral of the story: better finish the job or don't bother starting until you know you can take it to the logical end.
A deep breath in, my day is done,
At least seven times the clock has rung.
Begin my walk along side the sun,
while wiping dirt up off my face.
Happy? I'd like to think I am.
But I'm just an plain old working man
doing grueling work, just to feed the fam.
Odd jobs from place to place.
The tracks before me, just installed of course
took just six weeks with a ten man force.
Shiny steel rails above rocks so coarse,
gleaming softly in warm dusk rays.
Too much. Too little. The internet has both. We are drowning in an explosion of information and data creation that is (almost) outpacing our ability to store it, manage it, and our ability to sift through it to find the few pieces that are important to us individually.
Walking on the streets at night
dimly light by lamp post lights.
Ten till midnight, by my count
with not another soul in sight.
Green leaves upon the summer trees
gently waving summer breeze.
Tis a vibrant park outside the home,
a hundred vets, yet he's all alone.
Oh surely friends will wave and smile
though blind, they are, to the fear/denial.
Tis safer that it's kept this way,
for the bench is where he came to stay.
Every day at half passed one,
the healing warmth of Florida's sun.
All is well till his face droops down
to see the leaves his eyes have found.
Multiple Exposures: I was naive to think I was going to be able to embody The Four Agreements with mental focus alone. I simply am not disciplined enough! So after I realized I wasn't really making much progress on the first agreement, I decided to make it like a daily vitamin; taking a dose right before breakfast. You've probably guessed the punchline—it worked. By reading it first thing every single day, it really allowed me to set the stage a lot better. But more importantly were the memories that this stirred up in reviewing my previous day. Yes I'm now to the point where I can re-read the entire chapter for agreement 1 (being impeccable with one's word) in less than 10 minutes. And I even know where all the punch lines are, so there is no intellectual surprise. No, now the magic is not in the words but in my performance. And the text gives me tangible examples to compare myself to; not in a judgmental way, but more as a gentle reminder, learning from the wisdom of those who went down this path before me.