Recently, we’ve been all over math. Classes in it, talks about it, writings of it, groundbreaking projects associated with it… but why math for me? That’s a difficult story to tell. If you ever want to take flight, you must learn math. I wanted to. Along the way, I was grounded in the worst ways. Math links back to a shattered dream and one of the worst hurts I’ve ever had. Follow me on this flight path of relearning to dream…
When I was ten, I wanted to be an Air Force pilot. My dad was an airman, a veteran, and he loved aircraft. He taught me all about them and he would amaze me on flights we would go on during vacations. He could explain every sound and bump. “Flaps! Gear doors!” He knew them all as they happened. As a ten year old, I was addicted to the very idea of riding one of those winged marvels across the sky. I wanted so badly to be a fighter pilot. I was good at math, maybe even great, for my age. That was a prerequisite my dad had said. It was and I was doing well. By ninth grade, I was in algebra II and by tenth, pre-calculus. Then, I couldn’t get it. Roadblock after roadblock. I couldn’t think of math the way I needed to. Once I combined the math setbacks with my inability to reach six foot tall, my dreams started to slip. Add failing eyesight, and it was a dream that was just fanciful. I went on to soldiering, but continuing math was a challenge and the dream of flying a fighter was gone. But I still loved flight as an adult. I enjoyed flying commercial airlines because it took me into a wonderful, comfortable place whenever I’d step onboard. A place where dreams were born. A place where when I closed my eyes, I controlled the aircraft and dad told me the tricks.
As I got older, I lost the grasp of math entirely like many people who don’t practice do. I could do my taxes and handle a checkbook, but everything else was seemingly pretty pointless. Anything more was for dreamers and pilots and I had no room to be either. It was a perfect dream, though. I could dream it to remember my dad. I was eventually married and shared the joy of the dream with my spouse. At one point, after my service time, she got job and told me she was working extra hours. She wouldn’t come home until the middle of the night. This was a frustration point for me and, during a confrontation after a night that she never came home at all, she blurted it out, “I’m working the extra hours so I can buy you pilot’s lessons.” My God, what could I say? I was moved, I was sad for the fact that I got angry, I felt guilty that I was unfair… Eventually, it came out. She wasn’t working. She was having another affair and she completely weaponized a childhood dream to shut me up. That marriage was a nightmare that ended, ultimately, in a prison sentence. My sense of self worth was destroyed and that dream was soured so bad, it wasn’t even fun to try and remember.
After several years of incarceration, I finally saw the spark, the thing to ignite an old dream, many of them in fact. With the help of friends, the ones I have on this math journey, I reconnected to the dream of flying about a year ago. I formed a set of goals about how and when this will play back into my life. I see it… the clouds, the controls, the feel of the tipping wings on a banked turn, the sounds of the tower, the vibrations. But, while I had the dream restored, I needed the math. Now, on this journey, I’m getting the math… And for the first time since it dulled out to a memory that was eventually consumed in pain, I can find the hunger for math. With my work towards freedom, I’ve worked to dream the way a ten year old did about the majestic steel dragons of the sky. If I only get “pretty good” at math again, I will have come a long way at proving so much more to myself. The dream isn’t ove,r even if it’s not a fighter, and I’m working towards its reality again, one complex math problem at a time…
by Rory Andes
From a shattered childhood dream, to a source of reeducation and awakening…
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Rory Andes 367649
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