A mathematician’s clock and the joy in suffering (just a little bit)

Visitors to our house are always impressed with Ben’s clock so I thought I’d share a pic:


His sister bought it for him.

After our terrific bicycle ride on Saturday I was thinking about what it is that’s so good about cycling from one place to another. There’s all the obvious things like the “fun” aspect, the feel-good endorphins, and the sensation of wind in your face, but it’s also satisfying on a much deeper level. Getting somewhere under your own steam, particularly when it causes a bit of pain like working your heart or battling wind and rain, is deeply rewarding and satisfying on a visceral level. Whenever I reach my destination after expending some effort, I feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment which I don’t get when I drive somewhere.

I watched this TED talk yesterday about a surfing photographer who goes surfing in icy waters in the arctic. In his talk he says, “In life there are no shortcuts to joy. Anything that is worth pursuing is going to require us to suffer just a little bit”. The suffering, he says, adds value to what we do and I agree! Within reason of course. I’m not sure I’m quite up to surfing in water next to great chunks of ice, but I felt immense joy after my swim in the north sea and also after my cycle ride on Saturday. In fact, each time I cycle out on my bicycle somewhere, I feel that same pleasure and satisfaction.