Sunday, January 15, 2012

Life's Ups and Downs......A Visual Verbal Metaphorical Realization



Hey, all of us have noticed that our lives go up and down. Sometimes things are great, sometimes things are terrible. Sometimes we feel up and sometimes we feel down. But it was only tonight, talking with my twin sister on Skype that I realized that there are two different ways (probably many more....but these are the two that interest me) to look at this.

If you think of your life as a YoYo...(top picture) you see yourself going up and down and up and down and yet somehow always landing back at the same place or being in between one of the two extremes. This is not helpful. Thinking of the "ups and downs" this way, you are going nowhere and there will always be ups and downs because that is how a YoYo works.  So when I said "I sometimes feel like I am going up and down....my sister used her hand to show a sine wave that went up and down but the amplitude (the maximum departure of the value of an alternating wave from the average value) kept diminishing the farther out she moved her hand until the line appeared flat.Yes, it was still going up and down, but the degrees of deviation from a straight, stable line smoothed out the more times it went up and down until eventually it was a calm, even straight line.....a path to a goal that no longer was determined by ups and downs, but rather moved in any direction.  Then she helped me understand that the goal is to make the ups and downs less and less as time goes on, so that my life becomes smoother, more stable, and heads in a clear direction....one that I may choose since this is how life needs to be thought of and lived. Then she shared with me the mathematical equation, that, when graphed,  would provide a visual metaphor for the way we should all approach our ups and downs. The equation is simple, though many who find mathematics intimidating will be more impressed with the picture than the equation. The equation, shown above, in the bottom figure taken from  http://press.princeton.edu/books/maor/chapter_10.pdf is (sine x)/x


Does how we think about our lives affect how we feel about our lives. You bet it does. Not only that it affects what we are willing AND able to do about events in our lives. From now on, no more YoYo-ing for me.....only (Sin x)/x. It is not life's ups and downs that determine our future, it is whether we are Yo-yos or sine wave oscillators.  I've made my choice. You can make yours.

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