Math+Life #8: Life on a Number Line

Move forward,

Don’t look back,

Forget your past,

It doesn’t matter,

Move on,

Move to the next one,

Move forward,

Never ever look back again,

They whisper.


I keep my feet glued to the ground,

Resisting myself from looking back,

Move forward they always say,

Forget the tiny details from before, they say,

They never really existed,

Just move forward.


I couldn’t help it,

I glanced back,

And saw my entire past lie at my feet.

I blinked as I saw the few moments flicker in front of me,

I hid my disappointment,

I wanted to see more,

I wanted to see the tiny details,

I wanted to see every person, everything, everytime, every memory in my life,

I wanted to know that my past was complete.

But as I stared at the empty dark spots glowing at my feet,

I knew that my past wasn’t full.

How do I move on,

How do I walk forward if no one shows me,

If no one shows me that I’ve accomplished,

A whole line of things,

Rather than a few scattered dots.


They were there,

The memories, the people, the emotions,

But somehow people thought I wanted to see my past,

In the simplest way possible.

They never knew that those moments,

Those infinite tiny ones,

Were the ones that mattered most to me.

So they simply clicked delete and got rid of the line,

Leaving me a few dots to spare.


I gulped and looked forward again,

I kept walking forward,

Don’t look back,

Your past is only a few dots,

It’s forgotten,

Move on,

They whisper.


Math Connect

My inspiration for this poem came from an article that I read recently in the Quanta Magzine, Why Mathematicians Can’t Find the Hay in a Haystack. 

The article explained how on a number line the only numbers we focus on and work with are whole numbers(1, 2, 3), integers(-1, 4), and other rational numbers(¾, 4/37), while in reality the number line is made up of mostly irrational numbers(for example pi, √2, etc). The article quotes, “Irrational numbers occupy the vast, vast majority of space on a number line — so vast, in fact, that if you were to pick a number on the number line at random, there is literally a 100 percent chance that it will be irrational.” Irrational numbers are like the hay in the haystack and the ‘write down-able’ numbers are the needles, according to the article.

In this poem, I have compared the moments in our lives to this idea. In our life, we have the big moments for example getting married, graduating college or having children but along with these come the small passing moments. These seemingly insignificant moments may be the feelings, experiences, emotions or other tiny details in our life. These together with the big moments is what makes up our life’s number line. In my poem I talk about how sometimes we should be mindful of those tiny moments even if it seems they are not there anymore.




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