Addition through Subtraction | The Mathematics of Life

Addition, subtraction, division and multiplication are the most fundamental operations that determine our ability to analyze. What if I told you that outside of academia, you have the ability to add through subtraction? No, I’m certainly not John Nash and nor do I have a revolutionary mathematical equation but what I am certain of is your ability to do so. 

Allow me to explain…

Few statues from the Renaissance era are as acclaimed by Western society as Michelangelo’s “David”. When tasked with carving this sculpture, Michelangelo utilized a slate of marble that was previously discarded as imperfect by his fellow contemporaries. It was through chipping away at both his craft and the marble for four years that he successfully carved David. It wasn’t through the addition of perfectly carved cubes of stone that the amalgamation of the statue came about. Michelangelo insisted that it was through the imperfections embedded within the stone that he had the ability to envision David; all he had to do was set David free from the extraneous chunks of marble. We seldom recognize that within each of us resides a Michelangelo and that the David we are sculpting is ourselves. 

Whether we look at a glass as half full or half empty isn’t as important as how long we hold onto it. Little to no effort is required to hold a glass for a few minutes; however, our arms soon fatigue if we’re tasked with holding it for a few hours at a stretch. Why then do we fill our proverbial glasses (our hearts) with resentment, anger, regrets, judgement, etc. What’s pitiful is that we latch onto these emotions, not for a few hours but for days, years and in some cases, for a lifetime! We weigh ourselves down with the burden of perfection, the opinions of others, toxic friends or merely through the pressure we subject ourselves to through comparisons that don’t serve us. 

As children, we’re often asked some variation of the following question: “what do you want to be when you grow up” for the focus has always been to strive toward attaining something or being like someone. In doing so, we seek to equip ourselves with skill sets to build successful and fulfilled lives. Somewhere in this pursuit of happiness, we become infatuated with accumulation: of wealth, success, fame, fortune, friends, adulation, accolades, etc. We initiate a thought pattern that recognizes the addition of things as positive reinforcements. So we go about adding things to our lives and increasing our memory banks with moments we spent getting to the final destination, only to realize that everything we sought out to achieve already resided within us. It is not through addition but through the subtraction of guilt, resentment, anger, ego and toxicity that we can begin to swim toward our destinations rather than merely keep ourselves afloat.

I encourage you to give yourself the permission to forgive those who have hurt you in the past. I request you to be selective with your thoughts today and to be honest with your word. Most of all, I encourage you today to just be, to merely exist rather than actively do. Recognize that all you require already exists within you. Add to your life through subtraction: declutter your surroundings, cleanse your heart of negative emotions, walk away from people who don’t uplift you and above all, acknowledge that in the entirety of the human experience, you are exactly where you need to be, in your body, which is truly your home.