Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Be the Sponge


I’ve been lecturing, I mean, um, working with one of our kids lately. The kid who got a bad grade in math even though he’s actually quite brilliant with numbers. The one who’d rather be working on his YouTube trick shot videos than sitting down with an Algebra equation. How can x and y compete with a ping pong ball ricocheting from three surfaces before sliding into a discarded Pringles tube? They can’t and yet, they must.

So we sit down together, night after night, and do homework. Sometimes I bring a glass of wine, which is actually not recommended. And I tell the aspiring filmmaker: It’s not a matter of spending hours and hours. It’s a matter of focus. You’re going to have to think about the math while you’re doing the math. And in class when the teacher is talking, you’re going to have to listen to what she’s saying. So many things in life depend on controlling your own mind, I tell him, starting to feel very life-coachy. This is probably the most important skill you can learn, I say. It’ll help you with work, with your happiness, with relationships. But for now, you must pass 7th grade math. Sometimes you have to be a sponge, and sometimes you have to be a laser.

He stares blankly at me, as adolescents tend to do, planning how he’ll get a wiffle ball thrown from our roof to land in a bucket across the street. While he’s filming it. He may also be picturing my own forehead as a prop in a trick shot involving a pool ball.

But I’ve been thinking about my Ghandi-esque pronouncement. Be the sponge. And then, be the laser. And it seems to me that my own working life teeter-totters from one of these to the other. Sometimes, I need to shut down the computer/phone/mindclutter and be the sponge. Actually notice things. Listen. Watch. Take notes. And sometimes, I need to shut down the computer/phone/mindclutter and force myself to put out a laser beam of production. In my case, to write something. It isn’t easy but I can tell you that in comparison, I’d rather be doing what I do than 7th grade math, which is just as exasperating as I remember it to be. Only don’t tell him I said so.


  1. Autsch - best luck ☼
    You might like this blog -

  2. Math was NEVER my forte, but amazingly, I still use the formula to find "X" when I'm altering a recipe or a pattern. Who knew math might actually come in handy one day in real life???


"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka