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Mental Math

I sit here
in math class
and I wonder what the meaning of life is.
I wonder if somewhere down the x-axis we figure out what the point is.

What I like about math—
an unlikely sentence starter.
What I like about math is its conciseness.
One question. One answer. It is simple.
So when they tell me to apply math to real life,
I try to make simplicity out of the complex.
It is impossible.

If there were a formula that calculated
exactly what would make your parents proud
or how to get the kids at school to like you
or how to smile when it feels like there is a knife in your stomach every waking second—
if there were formulas for that, I would have plugged in the x’s and y’s years ago.

I am trying to make sense of the numbers given to me
wondering if there are answers to my questions,
solutions to my problems
wondering if somewhere my parabolas intersect the axes
or if x equals anything
wondering if we are here arbitrarily,
creating things like math to occupy our meaningless existences

But then I am exposed to things like friendship and love and joy—
things you can’t plug into the quadratic formula,
things you can’t represent with a function—
and the messiness of life is bearable.
I may not intersect the x-axis but I have intersected with others.
Perhaps, as with vertical lines,
there infinitely many solutions for infinitely many people.

So I sit here
in math class
and I wonder if it matters what the meaning of life is
if I have plotted all my points and the vertex is my happiness
then the answer is right to me.



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