The digits I just recited are very special. They are the first 40 digits of my favourite number, a magical and mysterious number with strange and wonderful powers. It even has its own day, and I and millions of other nerds around the world celebrate it every year on March 14th. For centuries brilliant men have studied it, and been awed by its glory and beauty. This number is known as…
…Pi! It is named after the Greek letter π and not the food. I love Pi so much, I thought it would be cool to use three of its features as metaphors for three similar features of myself and my family. And so, my dear readers, may I introduce to you… Pi!
The first feature I would like to show you is that Pi is patternless. This is because it is what is known as an ‘irrational number.’ This means, among other things, that it is not a repeating sequence stuck in a loop or a simple digit like other, more boring numbers. It continually presents fresh and unique sequences without pattern, each digit standing alone and defiant.
Secondly, Pi is precisely calculated. It may look random, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is a solid, unchangeable value with a very specific function: measuring the ratio between a circle’s circumference (the distance around it), and its diameter (the distance across it). This is a critically important role! And Pi takes itself very seriously, each digit having the exact value and being in the exact place it needs to be in order to fulfil Pi’s purpose. Each digit is perfect, and none are pointless.
Thirdly, Pi extends infinitely. It. Never. Ends! The 40 digits I gave you in the beginning are enough to calculate the area of the known universe to within the width of a single hydrogen atom. Just 40 digits! NASA only uses 16 of Pi’s digits. But Pi itself is not content with even millions or billions of digits of precision. It continues pursuing perfection, marching on and on for eternity, knowing that if it halts it fails in its purpose.
Now you know about Pi. Next, I will present to you three points about my family, the Lausers.
First: we are eccentric, extremely so. Everyone is different, unique, and special. People are often proud of this and try hard to stand out from the crowd. But we aren’t even in the crowd! We are a culture unto ourselves. When we moved from America to Ireland, we brought our culture shock with us! People are always trying to figure out what tribe of crazies we belong to, but we defy categories. We don’t just think outside the box, we hunt down and destroy boxes!
Second: despite our dedication to weirdness, we are purposeful and not random. There is both rhyme and reason to our madness. We design our lifestyle, we take nothing for granted, and we analyse everything. We are intentional, and yes, calculated. We relate everything to our core purpose: to obey God and fulfil His calling on our lives to the very best of our ability. From education, to health, to recreation, to work, we strive to be the best we can be, by that standard.
Third: we do all this with eternity in mind. We aren’t content with being just good enough. We know that this side of eternity, during our short lives, we won’t be able to reach perfection. But we don’t give up. There is more to how we look at our lives than just this earth. We have to include more in our perspective or our calculation will be off. So over every worry and cultural pressure to conform, we keep our eyes on that eternal goal. And perhaps along the way we might do something as awesome as calculating the area of the known universe.
To sum up! Pi is patternless, precise, and extends infinitely; we Lausers are eccentric, purposeful, and eternally minded. Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to encourage each and every one of you to take stock of the mathematics of your day-to-day lives. Every second, every minute, has worth and potential. No choice is so small that it has no impact on your life as a whole. Every. Little. Step has meaning. Don’t leave the details to chance or the choices or the culture of others. Be intentional and hold a high standard. Be focused on a worthy goal. And don’t ever give up. Thank you.
P.S. This article is actually a transcript of the Icebreaker speech I gave at Toastmasters – the first speech you give in the program. I’ve wanted to share it with you for some time, and figured since today is Pi Day, this is the time to do so. Enjoy!