Mastering the Game

May 6, 2008
By Susannah Major, Papillion, NE

An intense game of darts was at hand. That seven feet nine inches felt so much farther away than it looks. I wound up my arm, aimed for the bull’s eye, released, and hoped for the best. Not to anyone’s surprise, my dart didn’t even hit the board; in fact my dart just added another streak onto the Wall of Failure, as I liked to call it. That was try one; second throw I wound up, aimed, and released again, and luckily my dart landed in the portion of the board scoring eight points for me! I sighed in relief knowing that I had at least some points on the board. Third throw was an absolute disaster; my foot accidentally slipped over the blue masking tape on the ground, disqualifying me for that round. I knew I had a lot of practice ahead of me to get up to the skill that my parents had acquired over the past few months. To try and ease the pain of my horrible round, I decided to tackle my Pre-Calculus assignment, which was easily my hardest subject in my junior schedule. I opened up my book and thought back to the lesson we had learned in class, solving linear and non-linear equations.

I tried solving for X, Y, and Z thinking that this was going to be as easy as my teacher made it look in class. Little did I know about the amount of time I was about to waste trying to figure out where these lines intersected on the coordinate plane. I attempted the first method we learned in class, substitution. It seemed easy enough solve for Y and then simply plug that back into the original equation. That was by far not the case. Those negative numbers, square roots, and fractions threw my head in a spin, like a Spanish speaker taking an English class. After attacking my paper with my eraser, attempting to pull out my hair and a good twenty minutes of my time, wasted, I finally solved it. That was just one problem and I still had fourteen more to do. I realized that I had a ridiculously long night ahead of me. I glanced back into the other room to see my parents throwing triple twenties like there was no tomorrow. “Bulls Eye!” I head the board fill the room obnoxiously. This math problem and a game of darts seemed to be more alike than I had ever realized.

I am a perfectionist, which sometimes has its negative side affects. I needed to make sure I had perfected the math assignment just in case there was a seemingly impossible homework quiz the next day. I took a break from my study session and went into the other room to practice throwing a few darts. Those twenty minutes flew by much faster than I had anticipated. Night after night, I’d go downstairs to try and perfect my dart game. To my surprise I started throwing some pretty decent shots, even a couple triple twenties and a bull’s eye! I had finally go tit, just like my math assignment I stayed up until midnight trying to master.

All that practice had finally paid off with not only my dart game, but with my math assignment too. As for the homework quiz the next day, I aced it! Solving for X, Y, and Z never seemed so easy. Now that was sure to raise my grade. I challenged my parents to a game of darts that night after dinner. I felt pretty confident that my practice was going to pay off. Well, it did; although I didn’t win, I came in a very close second to my dad. It felt so good knowing that all my paid off for my dart game, and math assignment.

Looking back on my Pre-Calculus assignment, I can’t believe I struggled just trying to solve linear equations. Now, I can do that with my eyes closed. And for the first game of darts, I feel completely embarrassed that I couldn’t even hit the board. Everything all of a sudden just clicked. Now I don’t have to attack my paper with my eraser, and if I have to throw a seventeen to win a game of darts, not a problem! Who would have thought a game of darts and my math assignment would have so much in common?

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