I read Gillian Conoley’s “Sinking into a Leopard Pillow.” This poem brings up the question of what to do today, with the speaker only exposing herself to the things that she believes will inspire her. This poem particularly strikes home to me because this is the question I find myself constantly asking myself. Everybody says you need to chase your dreams, and that is an idea that this poem caters to because it is in a way saying carpe diem, because it is telling the reader to find inspiration for something to do that day so as to make use of that day. But then again, I ask myself, what does it matter what you do? At the end of everybody’s life, none of this dream-chasing will mean anything because it will all come to an end.
I find this poem especially meaningful to me because I am at a “crossroads” in my life. It is at this time that I really need to decide what to do not just today and tomorrow, but for the rest of my life. I need to finally decide if I should do what I enjoy doing, which is mathematics, or should I do what will give me a materially pleasurable life, in other words, do what will give me money. Most people say do what make you happy, so chances are I will end up being a mathematician.
Then again, I also see the other (albeit darker) side of the argument. Why should anyone do what makes them happy if at the end of the day it doesn’t mean anything anyways? After all, I am only a tiny speck in the entire existence of mankind. As long as I don’t interfere with other people’s lives, why should I feel obligated to do anything? I could just drop out of school and sit on the street playing checkers with my street friends.
In the end, I don’t really fully agree with either side, but I think if I am going to spend several more decades on this earth I might as well have at least the slightest intimation of a purpose. This is why on all my college applications I have put mathematics as my major of choice, because even though I probably could do engineering, physics, economics or business, mathematics is the thing that ultimately makes me most happy.
While I am on the subject of mathematics, I guess I might as well ask a quick little problem that I asked a few other people earlier this week:
If e^(ix) = cos(x) + i sin(x), then what is ln(-1)?