This too shall pass

Earlier this week, Akshay and I discussed how life is made of many concurrent streams, each one with its ebbs and flows. Most of the time, they average around our normal state, but all ebbs, or all flows, are aligned once in a while, and we suddenly feel surprisingly down or highly hyped.

In such moments it is essential to remember about the different streams and the fact that these extremes states are often purely coincidental.

I like to visualize things with pictures, but that’s something my brain doesn’t naturally do, so I often call mathematics to the rescue. Here’s the graph of a function that shows pseudo-random –and ample– variations:

I find it interesting to think this is actually the result of the sum of three simpler functions, each one showing less randomness, and much smaller variations:

Which we can simplify even more into six simpler ones with much more regular behavior and even smaller amplitude (sinus and cosinus by definition oscillate between -1 and +1):

Now, I realize that this is an ultra simplified vision of reality and that life is much more complex than that, don’t get me wrong. I do find it helpful, though, to think in these terms to remember that, in Tom Hanks’ words, when you feel that everything is going terribly, as well as when you feel invincible, this too, shall pass.


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