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.

15 Replies to “A mathematician’s clock and the joy in suffering (just a little bit)”

      1. Maybe not but I am impressed with your resolve to live car-lessly. I was reminded of you again on the weekend when I passed by a young father riding a bike just like yours with his 5 year old son in front as they descended one of the local hills. They were smiling and laughing uncontrollable with sheer joy. I can’t wait to see what you do when your kids begin to cycle themselves.

  1. That’s a really lovely clock!
    My car went to a new home yesterday, and I am fascinated by the different *feeling* that getting about under your own steam gives you, from going about in the car. At the moment, I am running back from work to the station, and even the 20 minute walk to work from the station is less tedious than I thought it would be, if I concentrate on making my core muscles tight and feeling strong, and the enjoyment of feeling that I have done something good for my body. Everything *feels* and *looks* different. Different and better!

    1. I hope you enjoy living car-free. I love it and have long wanted to live this way. In a sense I’m living my dream now 🙂

  2. Love the clock. Shame that it gets a 0.4% error at 11 O’Clock but then miraculously corrects itself by the time it reaches 12 O’Clock! A genius clock in that regard.

  3. Great clock. I’ll have to get one. As a lover of the beauty of maths I was saddened to read John Nash had been killed. Ironically given your post in a car smash. Now there was a beautiful mind. And as a fellow bike lover there was a fascinating You and Yours on radio 4 today about cycling. You might try and catch it on the iplayer. I’d love your take on it. I heard it while in the car! My only excuse is cycling 140 miles to collect my mum in law is beyond even my cycling zealotry.

    1. I had heard about the tragic car crash. Life lost in a car crash seems so unnecessary. And this was not one life but two …

      I think you have a good excuse not to cycle the 140 miles. Although it might be doable with one of these:

      1. Wow. At the start I thought it was you showing it off. Still think MIL might be a bit much but what a great idea. And yes, you are right two people died. Clumsy if me to focus on the one. Mea culpa.

  4. Does he do commissions on the clocks or is it possible to get one that can be made in a similar way? My 6 year old is maths mad- his class has started on their times tables and that was like, ‘so last year’ for him- he is quicker at answering them than his 9 year old sister! One thing I like about cycling is the way the scenery unfolds in front of the riders- Its easy to stop by the side of the road and take it all in vs being in a car- The thrill of bombing down a hill at 50km/hr (aren’t cycle computers great!?) is a buzz that makes me appreciate what it is to be alive! For someone who has had times when I felt like I didn’t want to carry on being around, that’s really saying something!

    1. Yes, it’s much easier to take in the sights when you’re out on a bike. And you feel the air and smell the smells which does make you feel alive. I’m not sure I’ve ever made it to 50k/h down a hill though. I’m a bit of a Granny on the bike 🙂

      1. Might be a bit scary for the kids in the front going that fast- I only do that when I can see clearly what is in front of me!

Leave a Reply to TanGental Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s