In 2014, I took a trip to New York City to see Neil Patrick Harris in Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway. There are things we know we have to do or we will regret them forever. I stayed at my favorite hostel in Brooklyn. It’s a great little place, the company is great, the location is one of the best in the city, and it is near the subway. I love the staff there and they are super friendly.

My roommate on this occasion was a women in town for an educational neuroscience conference. I did not even know that field existed. As you would expect, I wanted to pick her brain and learn more about the discipline.

Well, we were talking and I happened to mention my love of mathematics.

Her response, “You’re so passionate.”

This answer did not sit well with me.

Passion.

What is it that bothered me so much. It wasn’t how she said it. Thinking back on it now, I understand something that is crucial. We must delineate what we mean when we use the word passion—with all its connotations.

Passion isn’t always about good things.

When I think about things that I am passionate about, mathematics isn’t what I equate with those feelings. I’ll tell you why and maybe you will understand.

I am a passionate mental health advocate. I am one because I was diagnosed with a mental illness but also because of the stigma that still surrounds help seeking behaviors. Therapy is useful any time in our life when we need support. You could be grieving, having a fight with your partner, or wanting a raise at work. All valid uses of counseling.

I’m passionate because I believe other people are not. I have to care more than others or else no one would care at all. I need to spend my time advocating and convincing others to care as much as I do.

That is passion to me. I see fire when I hear that word. Often, It’s fueled by an aggressive or angry energy. It comes on strong and I don’t back down easily when I speak on these topics.

I know that isn’t the formal definition of passion. This is how I think of it contextually.

I find mathematics pleasurable.

When I talk about math my eyes light up and I can’t stop grinning.

It is pleasure that fuels my writing for this blog. If it were passion, I would burn out and it wouldn’t be much fun to write on this topic every week. **Especially if people were unresponsive.**

I have a year of content already planned and I will write whether any reads this blog or not.

It is easy for me to talk on this topic. I feel positive and I hope that leaks into my writing.

Part of this blog is about the pain I went through as a child and a young adult. But, it is also about the joy of discovering the love of your life. That is mathematics for me.

Two Yitzhaks, Lena Hall and Miriam Shor, sing “Random Number Generation” from the Hedwig and the Angry Inch Movie Soundtrack.

What brings you joy?

SUSAN SILVER

I’m the writer with a mathematical muse. I love words, numbers, dreaming big & helping others. I believe that whatever you imagine, you can become. They/Them.

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