Withdrawals from Thinking

It has been quite a while since I've been so intent on an activity that I've dreamed about it at night. For example, when I was in high school there was a while that I was programming during all of my free time; I remember dreaming about C++ at night often. Then I started playing Go with some friends a lot and reading books on Go and I dreamed about Go games. Another time a few years later I was playing racquetball several times a week and was focusing on improving my playing, when I started dreaming regularly about racquetball. In the past half dozen years, however, that has stopped. I've still had dreams about math or other things related to what I'm doing, but it hasn't been nearly as intensely correlated or persistent. They are usually just intermittent, isolated dreams rather than periods of consistently dreaming about the same thing.

Last night I woke up several times (which is rare for me) and each time I had been dreaming about SQL. It reminded me a lot of my dreams like those above. Now I have been using SQL some at work lately. In fact, it has typically been the highlight of my working, as it is a little more challenging and fun that the typical monotony (though being more challenging certainly doesn't mean it is challenging). But I didn't think I was focusing on it or thinking about it that much. We'll see if the dreams keep up.

I expect that what I really need is more challenging hobbies to occupy my mind outside of work (not to mention a job that requires the use of my brain)—I think portions of my brain might be dying from the lack of use. I became really aware of this the other day when I was having a conversation with my roommate about calculus: it felt like my brain came off of standby for a little while. Then it went back.

I think I've become kind of accustomed to thinking about fairly complex mathematical stuff. Like how to write a program in Matlab to approximate the solution to a parabolic partial differential equation describing heat flow in a plate over time using a four dimensional array to store and then analyze all of the approximation data. That was the final project for my numerical methods class my last semester, which incorporated concepts from two semesters of numerical methods. It was pretty darn cool. The above descriptive sentence doesn't do it justice at all.

I don't do much complex math anymore. (Though my current coworkers seem to think so—I'm not really sure what they think mathematics majors do after we learn arithmetic.) Now I'm pretty sure I'm going through withdrawals. Yes, mathematics is addictive. So is a lot of education. In fact, many would say you have to develop a taste for mathematics over time by doing it. But then the intoxicating euphoria of understanding and accomplishment begins to reinforce your exploration of it so you want a little more. And the higher and deeper you get the more it takes to satiate your craving. If you haven't started yet then maybe you shouldn't. (On the other hand, relationships are pretty addictive too, and most people still consider those to be pretty beneficial.) As for me, I think it's already too late.