A senior in college, I needed to pass freshman elementary

math. All winter and spring I stayed away from the class.

For one thing, nothing made sense. For another, it met

at 9 in the morning, and I was busy with other things,


so at semester’s end my grade was F, with 5 days

between my other finals and the crucial one in math.

The focus that semester was calculus, the occult system

of rates of change through time or space or something,


requiring a leap of imagination that I had never

made. Now I had to, so I concentrated, with a few

books to consult, one lent by my girlfriend; it belonged

to her husband, an engineer. Hour after lonely hour,


day and night, like a mystic probing holy texts for knowledge

of God, I studied. And then I got it! The concept penetrated


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