The Moment of Pure Clarity (or Ultimate Fuzziness)


I am not gifted in the area of mathematics. Ridiculously so.

So when I saw this word problem, my brain melted a bit.

You saw a shirt for $97.
You didn’t have the cash, so you borrowed $50 from your Mom and $50 from your Dad.
$50 + $50 = $100
You bought the shirt, and had $3 change.
You gave your Dad $1 and your Mom $1 and kept the other $1 for yourself.
Now you owe your Mom $49 and your Dad $49.
$49 + $49 = $98 + your $1 = $99.
Where is the missing $1?

Now, you’ll have to suspend disbelief for a minute and imagine that you would actually spend $97 on a shirt, that you would borrow the money for such an expensive shirt, and that the government wouldn’t take tax out of the transaction. Now that that’s done, feel free to be confused by the actual math involved here.

I saw this math problem right before bed. Don’t ask me why I was looking at math problems before bed. Some people like to eat pickles, which I think are gross, but I try not to judge them for it (just kidding, I totally judge them). Anyway, I was mulling over the problem as I lay there, and then, in a moment of complete clarity, I understood it. I knew where the missing the dollar was. I was at complete rest in my knowledge. And then I fell asleep.

In the morning, I started thinking about the problem again, and was again confused. Did I really understand it perfectly right before I fell asleep? Or was my mind so fuzzy that I only thought I understood it? After all, our minds are totally willing to accept things that make absolutely no sense while we dream. Perhaps I was just experiencing a pre-dream-state of acceptance.

But as I thought the problem through again, I remembered my thoughts from the previous night and knew that I had understood things correctly in that pre-dream-state.

Maybe tonight, I’ll think about an actual problem that needs to be solved, like cancer or poverty or something else (maybe some plot holes in my novels), then come up with a great solution. Let’s just hope I remember it in the morning.

Have you ever had a moment of pure clarity?

3 thoughts on “The Moment of Pure Clarity (or Ultimate Fuzziness)

  1. I tried to go over the problem thrice, not happening! May be I am indeed very bad at math, but you may not be. So tell me the answer, please 🙂

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