March 23

Start with What You Already Know

March 23, 2018

Personal Growth

I know a woman, Sarah, who teaches mathematics to kids at an age when they are preparing for college in a few years. One young woman was having difficulty understanding exponentiation, which is a common mathematical operation involving two numbers, the base and the exponent.

An example of the use of an exponent would be x4, which means x to the fourth power, or x times x times x times x. The base number is x and the exponent is 4. If x = 2, then x4 would be 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 16. As the numbers become larger and more complicated, few people can do the calculations in their head, so they use a calculator.

Sarah noticed, however, that her students would use their calculators for the simplest functions, which they should know in their head. On one occasion, a young girl picked up her calculator, and Sarah said, “Before you go looking for answers, always remember what you know to be true every time—the simple things. For example, what is x0, or x to the power of zero?”

The girl said, “One” (1).

“That’s right,” Sarah said. “And what is x1, or x to the power of one?”

“X.”

“Right again,” Sarah said. “So you won’t ever have to look that up on a calculator, will you? You’ll always know that any base number to the power of one equals that same number, and every number to the power of zero equals one. You can count on those exponents, no matter how large or complicated the base number is.”

Just as mathematics is much simpler when you remember what is always true, so our lives are much simpler and happier when we remember what is always true. Once we have found someone to genuinely love us, we will always know that we are worthwhile and lovable, no matter how complicated circumstances might become. We know that we are not alone. We feel connected. With all that, we can overcome fear and anger, and we can choose to be loving toward others.

Remember what you know to be true. Find somebody who loves you unconditionally. Feel it. Trust it. Carry it with you. Allow this knowledge to insulate you from fear, anger, and a sense of worthlessness. The truth really will make you free.

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