Lucy Lemay Cellucci

Blog

Euclid’s Elements of Interplanetary Marriage

solar system

My husband and I originate from two different countries. This, I would assume, accounts for many of the differences between us. But sometimes, instead of an ocean dividing us, I feel as though there is an entire solar system. I am convinced that we aren’t even of the same planet.

If you were to ask me to describe the place where I come from, I would talk to you of a magical realm where rainbows and unicorns appear regularly. Imagination is that the forefront of all endeavors, and the door to experiencing emotional vulnerability is usually left wide open. I go about my daily tasks, allowing the creative spirit to guide me on how best to express the idea that settled into my brain somewhere between waking up and trying to get the children to school on time (creation and convenience are not synonymous, by the way). I can watch a dance performance and be moved to tears, hear a piece of music and feel goose bumps on my arms and be tickled by laughter simply by using my ability to see the absurd in the most ordinary of moments. All of these things are available to me because I come from planet called Artist. It is easy to spot my kind. We can frequently be found picking ourselves up and brushing away the dirt from our clothes.Reaching_For_The_Stars_by_kaotickell

 

Artists are notorious for tripping over things because their focus is almost always directed up at the beauty of the stars. Always reaching on the tips of their toes, trying to grasp that little gem of an idea by the tail and bring it to fruition.

 

 

GeekMy husband, in contrast, hails from a place where the inhabitants are greatly pre-occupied with mathematical equations. Instead of fiction on his bedside table, you will find the likes of titles such as CALCULUS – FOUNDATIONS AND APPLICATIONS, DATA STRUCTURES & DIGITAL COMPRESSION, CONCERETE MATHEMATICS, FINITE MATHEMATICS, PATTERN-ORIENTED SOFTWARE ARCHITECHTURE and of course, the riveting second edition of FOUNDATIONS OF ALGORITHMS – EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK. You see, my husband’s place of origin is the planet Math & Science. People from this place are often picking themselves out of the dirt as well, but except instead of gazing to the heavens above, their clumsiness is generally attributed to having their nose stuck in a book or to a screen. Many of these souls shine so brightly with intellectual genius that they appear, at times, to lack basic social and interpersonal skills. A long time ago, people who came from planet Math & Science were labeled “geeks” as a way for the other people who didn’t come from that place to feel more at ease with their differences.

My husband is extremely passionate about math. In fact, he refers to it as an art. It is, without a doubt, his preferred form of expression. And it functions beautifully for him when constructing lines of code in a software program, compressing data, generating digital images and all the other myriad computer programming tasks I won’t even pretend to have a clue about. Sadly, though, it does little to help him communicate with his family — his wife in particular, who has little to no understanding of numbers. Where she comes from, words and music and movement are the languages that she understands.

What’s a guy with a pocket full of algorithms to do?

On occasion, my husband can be a sparkling conversationalist, particularly when it pertains to something he’s keyed up about. Lately, his preferred subject of interest lies in a book he’s begun reading titled Euclid’s Elements. Euclid was a Greek mathematician often referred to as the “father of geometry”. His system of geometry, which was hailed for its use of logic and demand of proof for its theorems, influenced many notable leaders, teachers and philosophers, including the likes of Descartes, Newton and Abraham Lincoln. His body of work is unparalleled in the archives of the scientific/math community and has been referred to as the most influential non-religious book of all time.

Euclid #2

 

 

Way to go, Euclid.

 

 

 

 

One night, I returned home from teaching to find my husband eager to share something with me. He was excited about Euclid’s proposition to construct an equilateral triangle out of one line segment by using circles. Basically, you can show the existence of a perfect triangle at the point where two circles intersect. For many of us, myself included, this is not life-altering news. But for someone like my husband, Euclid’s teachings offer a powerful muse in the ways of abstract logic.

“Do you see it?” my husband asks me excitedly. “Isn’t that cool?”Euclid #3

I peer down at his drawing and assure him that the little triangle between the two circles is indeed cause for celebration. Then I proceed to ask him if he’s eaten today and how much sleep he’s had in the last week. This somehow spirals into a conversation about how math is the abstract expression of conceptual ideas. For example, the number ten doesn’t actually exist. According to my husband, “ten” is just a way to express the quantification of something. Numeric codification is an expression of an idea, much the same way that words are, or dance is, or music … you see where this is going, right? My husband — my math loving, code generating, algorithm-obsessed husband — has just given me proof of his own brand of abstract logic.

It would appear that my Euclidian pupil feels strongly we are not so different. In fact, to quote one of Euclid’s common notions from his first group of postulates: Things that coincide with each other are equal to each other. It is my husband’s opinion that our likeness can found in the place where our differences collide. In other words, he’s constructed a mathematical equation to explain our relationship (geek).

A statement of this nature requires proof, of course, so like any good math student, I set myself to the task of showing my work. Herein lies the overlapping of two circles: one right brain dominant, the other left. The merging of Art, Math, perceptual and conceptual thinking, creates its own little triangle: the union of words and numbers, each struggling to express its own abstract logic to its foreign counterpart. It may not be perfect, but it is interesting, and at the very least, educational and entertaining –that is until someone needs to find a set of car keys. My husband and I bring something completely different to the table (or should I say triangle?). He has shown me the value of using logic over feelings in certain situations. He has shown me that sometimes less is more and that silence can be powerful. He is also the reason that I can now budget and balance a checkbook. For my part, I’d like to think that I’ve shown him the necessity for clear spoken communication with an emphasis on tone. I’ve shown him how sometimes feelings can be more important than logic and absolutely need to be heard. I also feel that it is acceptable to take credit for his ability to clean the kitchen properly and employ different character voices when reading stories to our children.

Lots of things going on in that little triangle.

And so, to conclude this little geometry lesson on marital compatibility, I have to say that in the end, I’m actually kind of happy that my husband and I had our chance collision, me with my head in the clouds, courted by an idea, he with his nose in a book, working out a mathematical equation. Two circles containing two completely different life forms, yet both governed by abstract, expressive thinkers who shared a love/hate relationship with George Lucas films, Thai food and fusion jazz. But perhaps the best thing to result from this little meeting of the minds is the appreciation that each of us has had to adopt for the other person’s thought process, and the way it’s forced us to keep working on our relationship — always trying to solve problems from a different angle.

In other words, we keep calm and triangle on.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.