Last week, Brent and I enjoyed a fully-supported Ciclismo Classico bicycle tour in Ireland, more or less along the southwest coast. COVID restrictions in Ireland had lifted just in time for us to make the journey. I have a handful stories to share, but want to start with this one…
In Ireland, vehicles use the left side of the road, not the right as in the US. Currency is euros, not dollars. Distances are in kilometers, not miles. Temperatures are in Celsius, not Fahrenheit.
We had some adapting to do, all of which seemed to involve math. (That, and keeping your bike to the left so you don’t end up bloodying some unsuspecting driver’s fender.) Anyway, as much as I like math, this was a lot of processing. Especially converting miles to kilometers on the fly, while out riding. On what persisted in feeling like the wrong side of the road.
One evening, a pair of incredibly talented musicians delighted us with traditional Irish music. One introduced an Irish jig, explaining that the time signature (rhythm pattern) of the jig is 6/8. “Well,” he amended, “really a combination of 6/8 and 9/8.”
After they played the jig, one of the guests said he tried to follow that complex rhythm pattern, but couldn’t. The guitar player nodded wisely. “Ah,” he said, “ye just have to learn the dance, then it’ll make sense.”
That casual remark stayed with me. It occurred to me that when learning to do anything new, I tend to “math” my way along. Do the calculations. Analyze all the steps before trying any of them.
But what if I tried a different tack?
Instead of doggedly following the numbers, analyzing the pattern… what if I would jump in and “learn the dance?”
This could actually be more fun.
Where to start? Well… after the first day’s ride, I’d thought to set my Garmin to show distance and speed in metric, which allowed me to follow the route instructions calculation-free. That’s the spirit! I set my phone weather app to show Celsius.
Now I was on a roll. Instead of trying to figure out the nearest American equivalent of unfamiliar menu items, I started ordering the most outrageously Irish foods offered. “When am I gonna get another shot at this?” I asked.
Side note: there was nothing I actually didn’t like, not even fresh seaweed or “mushy peas.”
We math-y types sometimes have a hard time going with the flow, but I found this shift in thinking freed me up to enjoy the trip in ways I otherwise wouldn’t have.
All I had to do was let the math take care of itself, and just learn the dance.
What about you? Do you math? Is overthinking your superpower, too? Do you give yourself “analysis paralysis?” I’d love to hear your thoughts in the “Your Turn…” box below the post.
Thanks for reading,
(c) 2021 Jan C. Johnson