I had been helping my son John study for his algebra final exam all afternoon. He had been doing fairly good, but after finishing that last grueling practice problem, he’d had enough. He got up from his chair and looked at the answer on his paper and exclaimed, “Algebra is useless. That’s nothing more than a mark on a piece of paper!”
I didn’t think of it that way at all, but I began to realize how we all see things from different views. To him, adding numbers to some obscure formula on a piece of paper had no more use than just making marks on it. It meant nothing to him. He couldn’t use it, hold it, or make anything with it. I made a mental note to myself not to suggest math professor as a potential career for him.
But for myself, I did not see it as a mark on a piece of paper. I saw it as a puzzle that challenged me to try to solve it. It was the mental challenge that I liked, and the satisfaction of completing something. I didn’t need to do anything with it afterwards.
We are all different in ways that are not easily detectable from the outside. We all see the same object but think and respond to it in different ways. To John, it was a mark on a piece of paper. To me, it was a puzzle. Neither of us were wrong. I made another mental note to myself, to remember this the next time I am talking with others who may not see things in the same way as me.