My Geometry Lesson

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

I remember this lesson, but I don’t always follow it when I should. I don’t mind taking the scenic route when there’s time, but those leisurely “Sunday drives” down back streets and past horse farms aren’t for deadlines and time crunches. They’re supposed to be used when there is no hurry. Unfortunately, we may use these pretty distractions when we need to complete a project and then have difficulty getting back on the main road.  (Ex. What starts as video research for a book turns into a night of binging on sitcoms.)

We fall behind and end up scrambling to try to make up for lost time. It doesn’t always work. Think about the speedsters who pass you to weave in and out of cars only to end up stopped in traffic beside you. You can’t get back 15 minutes by shaving 25 seconds off your drive down the street. The simplest way to prevent the possibility of that problem would be to leave ahead of the time you estimate is necessary to get to your location. However, in order to do that, you must plan ahead (even if you’re a “pantser”).

That brings me back to my geometry lesson. As much as I loved math, I struggled to last through that course. It felt like every other class was straightforward, but geometry had me going through mazes just to move forward five feet. It was like a pottery session on my brain every week. I didn’t know what shape it would be when we finished. But…for all the struggle I went through, my logic and problem-solving skills increased.

“The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” It sounds simple enough, right? Point A ___________ Point B. It’s direct.

student and ruler

One of the things I learned from all my rules, theorems, and proofs was how plan my trip from Point A to Point B. I know where I’m starting, and I know where I want to go. The only thing I need to do is figure out the most direct route, which should (depending on other variables like traffic) get me to my destination in the quickest time.

We can apply this lesson to other areas of life. I remember challenging my kids once with this idea. I said, “I have hidden a white barrette somewhere in this room. You may ask me any five questions you want, and I will answer truthfully. You job is to find the barrette.”

One child asked a couple of questions and looked around the room. The other child stayed in one general spot and waited. After a moment, I heard the golden question, “Where’d you put the barrette?” Bingo! I held out my hand to show her that I had been holding it the entire time.

We can make our lives unnecessarily complicated by doing all the work, trying to examine 5,000 possibilities, or even avoiding the obvious because it seems too simple. But simple may be the only thing required…and less stressful. (Independent doesn’t mean you have to do any and everything by yourself.) So, the next time you’re facing a project and aren’t sure where to start, start with the simplest thing and what you know.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

4 thoughts on “My Geometry Lesson

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