Pi Day and Discovering my Inner Geek

One dad's thoughts on self-discovery, nerdy passions and parenting

Saturday marks another amazing day that will only happen once this century. It’s Pi Day, referring to the irrational mathematical constant relating to the circumference of a circle. Namely pi = 3.14159265358…

March 14, 2015, shortly before 9:27 a.m. will be the epic moment of celebration. Should you hear fireworks or the deafening symphony of celebratory air horns, you will know that it is exactly 3/14/15 9:26:53.58. Or, perhaps you won’t hear anything. If nothing else, it’s a great excuse to eat pie.

For me, Pi Day is a day where I nostalgically reflect on how I found my own passions. When I was in the eighth grade, motivated by a friendly competition with a fellow math geek, I spent a few hours memorizing the first hundred digits of pi. The cool kids asked “Why?” while the geeks called me “cool.” Eventually I memorized the first 300 digits, but really … what was the point?

Years later, I earned a degree in mathematics. I didn’t pull up to the Dean of the Math Department’s drive-thru window with my “300 Digits of pi” voucher and ask for a degree, but those 300 digits did play their part. Pi helped me recognize some of my strengths, my love for finding patterns and number memorization and my tenacity when faced with a challenge.

My boys geeking out over their stomp rocket

Now, my pi memorization skill has been relegated to reciting it to my amused friends every March 14 while sharing slices of our homemade pies. But, pi also represents those fledgling steps into fearlessly pursuing what I found exciting, despite what my peers may have said. I reflect on this as I listen to my oldest son explain the latest world he has built in Minecraft, ad nauseam, when my daughter hands me her newest crayon masterpiece, or when my 3-year-old meticulously sorts through his rock collection. I try to do my best to share in their enthusiasm. Sometimes it can be hard to muster when I am tired or distracted, but I know that it’s important.

Those passions that children develop might seem insignificant now, but they can be the spark of something greater down the road. On this Pi Day and every day thereafter, I encourage you to harness your inner-geek, and help your kids harness theirs. Whether it’s science, knitting, coin collecting, sports, scrapbooking, or cooking, there’s joy in pursuing our passions. But, there’s even more joy in sharing them with one another. And there’s joy sharing a slice of pi(e), too. 

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