I think I am seeing what has driven me to drink, from my teenage years to my downfall as a maintenance worker at the park, and after graduating from the university in 2002 … well, around 2003 I experienced another “downward spiral into oblivion”.
Recognizing this general pattern may help me to prevent myself from reaching that point of total frustration again.
Now the problem is not lack of access to the resources for self-education, but quite the opposite. Now I have access to the PDF files of more textbooks in just a handful of subjects than I could possibly devote attention to over several lifetimes. This may be why I chose to collect used books rather than invest in an eReader. This has to do with choosing which textbooks, which areas I find most necessary to master, and to focus on those, using the other books (PDF) as reference.
In the meantime, if my life were to fall apart where I was looking for a residence where I had nowhere to store books, then a small computer would have to serve as my lifeline to the textbooks I stored in PDF format.
In making this commitment to return to those subjects I found to be most essential, I also have, in an indirect manner, made a commitment to stay out of trouble, to abstain from inebriation, to forget about chasing women.
So, unlike those who are promoting a certain way of life for others to follow, I am simply doing what I have to do to get through my life, hopefully becoming a wise old scholar whom the teenage version of myself would honor.
I will just embrace this calm period of my life and try to forget the tyranny of public opinion. If I am viewed by society as a deadbeat layabout who contributes nothing to society, then this is just the way it is. I will not add unnecessary unhappiness to my daily life by concerning myself with public opinion. As Jimi Hendrix sang, “Ain’t nobody know what I’m talkin’ about. I’ve got my own life to live. I’m the one whose got to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.”
“Go ahead on, Mr. Business Man, you can’t dress like me.”
Each of us has to get through this life as best we can.
There are worse ways to waste one’s life than studying mathematics.
The point is, this daily study of mathematics, which is heavy in working through exercises, forces me to come face to face with my “low frustration tolerance”.
It is similar to “sensitivity”, where I become frustrated – not so much by confusion over higher levels of complexity, since I generally stick to a level that I stand a chance of understanding. The frustration is with myself in computational errors, some of which are from basic carelessness. For example, I will not copy a negative sign from the original problem, and so even when I verify that my calculations are correct (with computer algebra system), my results are wrong. That’s not a big deal. It just forces me to track down the error, and I don’t feel so bad seeing that it was some “stupid” mistake and not a mathematical error.
It’s ok for me to have to work through these frustrations.
I predict that I will develop a calmer, less frantic, mindset simply by devoting so much time to this kind of problem solving.
So, as it turns out, I may be using mathematics to enhance “psychological and emotional” coping mechanisms.
Do you think this is an accurate assessment?