The Math of My Life and My Laundry


The Laundry Pile
Mathematics is the language of the universe, the foundation on which all things are built. If I had appreciated that in school, I might have paid more attention and worked harder to understand it. Lately I have been realizing that mathematical principles can apply even to the most mundane activities of everyday life.
Proportionality is the relationship of two variables whose ratio is constant. I have come to the realization that the level of stress in my life can be gauged by the size of my laundry pile. The physical mass of that pile is inversely proportional to the level of control I am experiencing over my life at any given moment. Today the pile is large. In fact it has been several weeks since I have seen the bottom of the laundry basket (I should have taken a photo to remember it by). People in our house are starting to wonder where their clothes have all gone.

Lately there has just been too much to do and not enough time to do it. Thursday was a particularly bad day at work and I was looking forward to going home, putting my feet up, and just vegetating. At 4:30 I got a phone call from summer camp, there was an epidemic of head lice and could I please come and pick up my infested children. As soon as I heard the word “lice” my own head, which had felt perfectly normal up until then (apart from the pounding tension headache), began to itch. Instead of a nice quiet evening sipping tea and watching TV, we had to wash all the bedding, spray everything down and vacuum, and treat everyone with medicated shampoo. The pile grew to its current Everest-like proportions.

Avogadro’s Law is the principle that “equal volumes of gases at the same temperature and pressure contain the same number of molecules regardless of their chemical nature and physical properties”. In my life Avogadro’s law seems to have morphed into the principle that whatever I have to do, regardless of difficulty, will take all the time I have available to do it in, plus a constant number. All tasks expand to fill all the time available to do them, plus at least 5 minutes. There is also the corollary Avogadro’s Number (6 X 1023), which in our house is the number of times my children are prepared to keep making the same request after they have been told “no”.

The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy can be transformed (changed from one form to another), but cannot be created or destroyed. I don’t think this law is working in my life. I have been trying unsuccessfully to convert ten pounds of body weight to some other form of energy for some time now. It’s not working for me. I want to send this law back.

A Black Hole, according to the general theory of relativity, is a region of space from which nothing, including light, can escape. I think I have a black hole developing at the bottom of that laundry basket. Maybe that’s where all the socks are going.

Infinity (∞) is a quantity without bound or end. I am infinitely grateful for many things. I’m grateful that I get to have life, even though it is stressful at times; I’m grateful for the people in my life, especially my family, even if they are the main contributors to the mass of laundry that threatens to engulf our home; I suppose, perversely, I am grateful for the laundry pile, because it reminds me that I have the privilege of caring for others. And I am infinitely grateful for my husband, who cares for me, and occasionally makes me cake to give me strength to tackle the laundry, and to fuel my energy transformation efforts!

3 thoughts on “The Math of My Life and My Laundry

  1. Isobel,
    This is brilliant. I’m sorry you had such a lousy day last Thursday. I can bring some tea bags to work tomorrow.

    Michele

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s