This I Believe

Michelle - North Potomac, Maryland
Entered on November 12, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

The Unknown Coordinate Plane

I am only eighteen years old. I took advanced Calculus in high school and am currently in Economics, though I am still only a freshman. I may have had a solid education, but I must admit that I really don’t know much about the world. I have heard my elders contemplate the meaning of life, but no one knows what it actually is. They try to define their own values through beliefs in God, karma, and fate. Many wonder what it is like to be in love, or whether they have experienced love. They search for these answers through philosophy, religion, and life experiences; but still, there is always something missing. I believe in the unknown.

I remember my fourth grade math class very vividly. Mrs. Fairbairn explained to my class the concept of a coordinate plane, that it has two axes: the X and the Y. When given coordinates, we moved the point from (0,0) over to the right and then up. This was as difficult as it was going to get. At that time in my life, I did not know that this was only a small concept of the broad study of coordinate space. I knew what I was taught and what I had experienced in that class and did not consider the possibility of more to this seemingly simple topic.

Then came middle school, where I learned that the coordinate plane I had learned about was in fact only one fourth of what actually exists. My teachers now taught me about the negative X and Y axes, amounting to four quadrants. I learned about connecting points in a plane and creating lines, rays, and segments. I felt as though I had been tricked when Mrs. Fairbairn misled me but was confident that at least now I knew the truth. Outside of my mathematics education, I was learning the same lesson simultaneously. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the world but was constantly being faced with new experiences.

Next was high school, where I was in for quite a surprise. Not only are there actually eight sections of the coordinate field; there is also a Z axis, both positive and negative. Why had my previous teachers never informed me that there was more to learn? Even so, I grew to accept the situation as it was. Perhaps when I was in middle school, it was only necessary that I understand the four quadrants because there was no use for the other four in my assignments. Maybe the new information would have complicated my thought process. Nonetheless, throughout the entire experience, there was information that I did not even know existed. In fact, maybe I still don’t know the whole truth.

What’s important is that I am curious as to what is actually out there in all aspects of life. I have come to terms with the fact that there is so much left for me to experience. I may think I have experienced love, but I don’t know for sure. How do I know that there is not more to this feeling that I have yet to experience? I have thought about the purpose of our existence, but I have no way of knowing what it may be. I hope that fate exists, but I am not sure of the reality. There is so much I don’t know, but at the same time, there is so much I’m willing to acquire. I believe that there is more out there and that I will be enriched by the future to come, both mentally and physically. I do not know any of this for sure, but this uncertainty, this unknown – this I believe.