Math in Retirement Part 2

There was a time when I contemplated Doing Math in Retirement. I thought it would be interesting to see the world as mathematicians do.

Wouldn’t you know, someone else had the same idea–and he wrote a book about it: A Divine Language by Alec Wilkinson. 

Hamilton Cain wrote an enticing review in the Star Tribune:

“He guides us through thickets of sine and cosine, digressions on Shakespeare and the concept of infinity. In the end he achieves his goal: His book demystifies math, illuminating the godlike, immutable properties of proofs and the ways numbers evolve, like animal species.”  

Hamlilton Cain on Alec Wilkinson’s The Divine Language

A literary journey through math sounds right up my alley.  But I have a niggling resentment that I didn’t take that journey myself.  

Waffling about whether to read a book about a man who learned math in old age, I asked myself: “What math have I learned in retirement?”

And it came to me: I have learned to notice shapes.

Circle selfie, rooftop bar, Madrid, Spain June 2022

You’d think I would have mastered shapes in kindergarten. But I was 53 years old trying to learn how to draw before I really started looking at the shape of things.

Alas, key elements of the art of drawing still elude me: line, contour, shading, color…but I’m I’m having fun noticing the shapes of birds that I sketch.

It’s astounding how this one small change in perspective has enhanced my appreciation of art and nature.  

Canola field on the Camino Frances, Northen Spain, 2022

Wilkinson said that learning calculus at age 65 brought him “into the awareness of the deep, profound mysteries of mathematics which can even be enjoyed as a tourist.” That appeals to me a great deal.

My husband Steve took these pictures of a Black Skimmer one early summer morning.

Counting the triangles, rectangles, and semicircles in these photos is almost a meditation.

Learning to notice and draw simple shapes isn’t exactly doing calculus. But it is in the realm of geometry. Geometry is math. Perhaps I will read The Divine Language after all.

Click here for a brief video of me contemplating math.


  1. Funny! I miss Bert & Ernie… a big part of our lives when my kiddos were young.
    I can identify with Bert… just about the time I get interested in the conversation, the other person is done😉
    Steve’s photos are beautiful and ypur drawing skills are awesome 👏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just love your observations about life and the visuals really enhanced my appreciation of what you were learning. Loved the video – poor Steve, lol!

    Liked by 1 person

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