trial and error

Once upon a time, I was pretty good in Math. I studied in a Chinese school and my Math teacher taught us so many tricks. By the time I transitioned to a new school, I was way ahead of my classmates. I loved how you could solve any problem with a little bit of common sense and just a pinch of elbow grease. It felt good to know that all problems have a clear solution. For the first few years, I got pretty high marks in Math.

And then came the concept of factoring. Hate is such a strong word and I don’t really use it that often but I can honestly say with the utmost conviction that I hate factoring. I still remember that day we first discussed it. My teacher gave us rules and examples but at the end of the day, it all boiled down to a concept that I could not grasp- trial and error. Math is all about logic. If you willingly risk making a mistake to find an answer, that’s not being logical at all. There should be no room for errors, I remarked and this new concept was shaking my very ideals to the core.

I flunked many a test in factoring and that year spelled the end of my love story with Math. In high school, I cheated my way through Algebra and Calculus. In college, I had to retake Trigonometry in a different college just to pass. I no longer wanted to study Math knowing that there are some problems that could only be solved by trial and error. They say all the failures in your life happen for a purpose. Last night, I realized why I flunked factoring.

I was out with friends two hours after my new love* ended. I needed the distraction. I was quiet the whole time and they kept asking me about it but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t really feel like talking about it. Being the youngest, my friends are a little over-protective of me and I didn’t want to think about anything at that time except recuperating from my loss. When alcohol had lent us its strength a few hours later, they pushed me into talking and I managed to finish the story without a single tear. I was pretty proud of myself.

But then they started discussing it and one of my closest friends said that I “allowed the situation to happen.” She meant well. She always does but at that exact moment, all my fake strength evaporated. In a moment worthy of Maalala Mo Kaya cameras, I delivered my first emotional line of the night.

“So are you saying that it’s my fault I’m in this shit? Honestly, I just gave this whole thing a chance. You wouldn’t understand because you’ve never allowed yourself to fall in love,” I said (with matching tears). It was part defense, part offense. She pushed my buttons and I knew just which ones to push if I wanted to cross her. By then, our voices were raised and the people in the other tables were starting to stare. Our other friends, split by the conflicting points, could not do anything but try to calm us both down. I stood up and went to the restroom. People can be so irrational when they’re emotional.

She was quiet after that. When I came back from the restroom, I noticed she was stifling tears. Damn, I felt so guilty when I saw that. I cannot stand seeing women crying and knowing that I made a really good friend cry made me feel like such an asshole. I knew that words would not be enough so instead of going back to my seat, I went over to hers and gave her a really big hug.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered in between sobs. “I’m just very emotional right now.” She flinched. It was one of our most awkward hugs.

“I just don’t understand why you allow things like that to happen to you. You saw it coming. You told me all about it. I’m not the type of friend who would hold your hand and tell you everything’s gonna be alright. I’m sorry, I’m just not. You saw it coming but you didn’t do anything to stop it.”

“No, I didn’t but you can’t blame me for that. That’s what you do when you love someone. You exhaust all options because it’s worth it. But I have my limits too. Would it help if I told you I ended it?”

She looked at me and said nothing but in her eyes, I could hear what she wanted to say. You’re stronger now. I’m glad you used your head this time*.

“Everyone says I’m jaded. Everyone says I don’t allow myself to love but how can I knowing that it could really get hurt?” she explained. “You’re one of the smartest people I know and yet you’re so stupid when it comes to love. You keep allowing these things to happen to you. I just don’t understand.”

I told her my factoring story. At first, she looked at me like I was crazy to bring up such an inane topic in a moment of high emotional stress but when I got to my point, I felt like for the first time that night, we finally saw eye to eye.

“In math and life, the hardest problems can only be solved by trial and error. You think I was being stupid for allowing my heart to get stepped on again and again and again. What you’re not seeing is I learned so many things along the way. Yes, I’ve made a lot of stupid mistakes but they will all be worth it once I find that person- the one who loves me to death and never fails to let me know every single day. The one who can be proud of me and would never hide me behind walls of secrets*. Don’t you think that’s worth it?”

“I just don’t like seeing you get hurt,” she explained. “I know I have a weird way of showing it but you know I love you, right?”

“I know. I know. That’s why you should probably know this: I have a lot of mistakes to make before I find that person. There will be times when I will feel down and I need to know I can count on friends like you to be there for me.” We hugged and that was that. Good lovers are easy to find but I would trade a shitload of them for one really good friend.

Trial and error: an abomination to logic but if you think about it, when has love ever become logical?

Photo Credit: BCMath

Alicia Keys
Doesn't Mean Anything
The Element of Freedom


  1. love is indeed trial and error. people that leave come in to our lives, not to break our hearts, but to prepare us for the one that will stay.

    i hate math.

  2. Oh, my, where do we begin?

    Let me start off by saying that although it's easy to say I hate math, truth is, I don't. Math hates me.

    At any rate, math is logical, as you said. It is comforting because it follows rules and there is only one correct and indisputable answer to any equation - which you will inevitably arrive at provided you follow the rules.

    The same, alas, cannot be said of that all-too-human variable called "love." I whole-heartedly agree that trial-and-error is a requisite to arrive at acceptable outcomes in the many varied equations that love presents. Some "rules" that worked for previous loves remain constant: cheaters are scum, lying is unacceptable, and no, you can't cum in my mouth just to prove that I love you, Romeo.

    Other "rules", though, will be inapplicable with the new sets of variables. The "silent treatment" may have worked for a previous lover, but not for the next. And so on.

    In the end, both math and love present us with problems. It's just that the former has definite answers; the latter has infinite ones.

  3. o wow. and this had to happen right after i left.

    i'm so... lost.

    we used to be so... close.

    last time you felt this way, i knew every little detail.

    i just hope you know that I'm still here when you need someone to hold your hand. we might have different ways of handling situations like this, but you know we all love you.


  4. @engel ~ that's very true and that's why i'm skipping the whole lov-isn't-real-i'm-so-gonna-die-alone phase this time. maybe i'm still in denial but this time, i really feel like i'm stronger.

    math sucks.

    @rudeboy ~ you should've seen me while i was reading your comment. i was chuckling so loudly, people started staring. poor juliet.

    there are always rules and while my post talked about the similarities between life and love, your comment was proof that they are still very different. maybe it's because numbers are better variables than people. numbers don't whine. numbers don't complain. numbers are just numbers.

    @apol ~ i love u too. i'll tell you all about it tomorrow. :D

  5. Gawd, that was a good analogy.

  6. hey, thanks! :D oh and welcome to my blog.

  7. I love math, kahit at first puro 7 grado pero nag graduate ako ng puro 9 na haha

  8. buti ka pa! haha ako wala.. semplang parati.

  9. The only math I ever loved is statistics.

    Maybe because all errors can be checked before you encircle the final answer.

  10. what i like about math is if you make a mistake, it doesn't hurt to crumple your paper and start again.

    (cue natalie cole) and now we're starting over agaaiiiinnnn...

    it was nice to meet you, galen. :D

  11. the only math i really enjoyed was algebra. i liked the concept of analytic geometry and calculus, but i couldn't really ever do it well. it seemed to mysterious and unconnected to reality. that's perhaps why i became a philosopher.

    i'm also sticking by my statement that relating/loving/dating is fundamentally a process of self-discovery....

  12. and since we love and relate until we die, the process of self-discovery never ends. it gets tiring sometimes. you can only discover so much.

  13. it is only tiring when you fight it. lol.

  14. "Maybe because all errors can be checked before you encircle the final answer."

    - sabi nga ni Galen... see, if you found out something's wrong, you try to correct it.... you don't give up.... but you try to correct it...

    i don't know why i'm gona say what i'm about to say... but i think you guys gave up too soon.... yes, the both of you!!!


    now, regarding math, hahahaha.... i have always hated the subject and you know why... formulas tend to give me brain hemorrhage that's why i took english for my major.

    to my horror, just last saturday in one of my majors, my prof. stated that english is just like math... you follow rules!!!

    magsi-shift na ako.... waaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    Bachelor of Arts in Pussy Cat Dolls Music Video Spoofing...... blep

  15. how i wish i could relate, but hey, im sorry to hear about what happened.

    anyways, ive always loved math...everything about it.
    lalo na ang trigonometry at algebra

    except for one pala


  16. i love math!
    and math loves me too!

    i love him...
    he no longer tells me he love me.

    i'm trying...
    choosing to let go is not that easy...
    i hope it wont be such a huge ERROR... trying to survive in a one way relationship.


  17. I love Math. It's poetic. :)

    I am fascinated with your perspective about it. Some people wouldn't readily take a risk. People like you, optimistic and determined, makes everything so much better.

  18. susmarya. sino ba kasing abnoy ang nag-imbento ng math? hindi ba niya alam na nakasira siya ng buhay ng milyong tao sa mundo? maryosep!

    oh, and i'm talking about love too.

  19. @LOF ~ well then i officially submit myself to it. haha happy bonifacio day!

    @YJ ~ well with most subjects, you really need logic. you should see my discussion of subject verb agreement. there are a lot of math-like elements. hehe

    @anteros ~ it's okay. i'm okay. hehe

    @gege ~ ang isang pag-ibig ay parang lansangan na pangdalawahan! kaya't sa ating awit tayo ay mag-bigayan hah. hehe sorry napa-kanta ako.

    tama ka. parang kalsada ang love. pero di naman pwedeng one-way siya. haha

    @manech ~ i wish i could love math as much as you. as for my optimism and determination, that's easily arguable. i can be so jaded sometimes. the half-filled glass often gets confused.

    @chico ~ oo nga! and why do we even bother doing it? siguro kasi alam natin na worth it naman. kaso andami lang nasirang mga pangarap.. haha kay dami nang winasak na tahanan. kay dami nang matang pinaluha.. kay dami nang pusong sinugataaaaan! haha

  20. another engineer? namiss ko bigla ang college days..
    anyway, gadnang comparsion ng love and math. galing!

    i'll be back ha...

  21. We're allowed to doubt and to get tired of it every once in a while, Nyl.

    What makes a difference, at least for me, is our willingness to start again. :)

  22. @chyng ~ welcome! hehe di ako engineer. wish ko lang diba? galit sa akin ang math eh.

    @manech ~ and that's exactly what i'm going through right now. have you ever eaten a blog post?

  23. yeah, experience is the best teacher. sometimes, we have to make the same mistake over and over again to completely learn from it. :)

  24. @max ~ which reminds me of something victor gregor once said.. sometimes the true test of a decision is to do it over and over again.. something like that. yo'd have to ask him for the direct quote. hehe

  25. Wow, you've got something going on in there. Nice analogy. Nice post. Life will be much easier if we live it like counting 123.

    Can you tutor me? :p

  26. Nice Analogy!

    Ang dami kong napupulut dito whenever I read your new post. Keep writing :-D

  27. what i like about math is how math teachers check math exams tapos kapag binalik may correction pa din pala...

    sarap kumain ng test paper nun kung ako yung math teacher...


  28. @jaypee ~ thanks! i wish it were as easy as 123 but if there's anything i know about life, it's not sequential. hehe

    as for the tutoring, you may as well ask for a social graces lesson from an inmate. i'm very clueless when it comes to love.

    @jepoy ~ thanks! that's very nice of you! :D sakto siya dun sa emo post mo. hehe

    @ewik ~ pero ang masaya dun eh pag binalik nung student at maayos naman lahat, perfect! haha (sorry di ko masundan analogy mo)

  29. tama. you live you learn.

    minsan di naman kailangan gamitan ng calculus ang simpleng addition.

  30. ganun talaga? haha sabi ko na nga ba eh. haha i guess i just have a flair for drama. kaya nga ako nangangain ng blog post eh. haha

  31. I hate MATHEMATICS.....

    Pero ang TRIAL and ERROR, kahit kailan at anong subject pa 'yan... Naroon 'yan... Except Nursing... Bawal magkamali...

    LOVE... 'Yan ang weakest ng lahat.

    Hindi problema kung magkaroon ng TRIAL and ERROR... That's life... Basta keep on trying kesa wala na talaga...

  32. thanks for dropping by! welcome to my blog! :D

    nagkamali na sakin yung nurse before.. maga lang yung inIV nya.. sakit!!!

    as for trial and error, yeah talo ka if you stop trying. kasi at some point naman lalabas at labas din yung sagot.

  33. weakness ko rin ang math. :P

    am sorry to hear about your new love. hindi bale, sure ako na mas pinatatag ka ng naging karanasan mo.

    ingat always, my friend. :)

  34. wow may picture na si aris!

    haha yeah it made me stronger. actually, it made US stronger. dinadraft ko na yung sequel nito.

    glad you're back! we missed u!

  35. how i wish the each solution is just an arithmetic away. And no logarithms, integrals, X's, cosines and exponentials to confound the equation.

  36. sadly though that's rarely the case. sometimes we try to add or subtract when we should be getting angles and computing cosines. sometimes we use the pythagorean theorem for a simple division problem. i guess that's just how things are.

  37. i have always loved math. factoring is something i'm good at, believe it or not. kaya mahina ako sa engrish.

    like in math, masaya at challenging maghanap ng solutions sa love problems. un lang, quantifiable sa math. sa love, hindi. boo.

  38. i guess that's it. love can never be quantified. to do so would almost always spell the end.

    di ka naman mahina sa english. alam mo ba kinalkal ko yung files natin at mas mataas ka pa sakin nung nasa training pa tayo? haha

  39. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  40. @trangleos ~ death to spammers!!!!

  41. yez. nazobrahan daw kasi ako sa letter 'z'. person - perzon. :)

  42. oh, factoring (espcially those not of the special forms) may seem to be a trial and error exercise at first, but the more you do it, the quicker you intuit and see the pairings that would produce the factors.

    bottom line is, it's the patience in practicing that's a very usueful application in life ;)

  43. i agree with eternal here. we are first mammals and our limbic brains need time to adjust -- no matter how creative our cerebral cortex can be.

  44. @mikee ~ wala haha tinatabla ko nga si g.lo. naalala mo pa yung kung sino nagsasabi ng cheeleeees?

    @eternal wanderer ~ welcome to my blog! actually, naisip ko rin yang point na yan when i published this post. yun din kasi sabi nung math teacher ko when she noticed na bumababa grades ko. i guess if you stop trying, you'll never learn. parang love din. if you're always afraid to love (and learn), you will be doomed to make the same mistakes over and over again.

    @LOF ~ and once it adjusts, it'll be like clockwork. is that really wise when it comes to love? i think making mistakes is part of the fun. hehe

  45. i can relate.

    i dislike my math subjects ever since i stepped up my high school, and i can't find the reason why i should like it more.

    though, i still learned to accept it as part of what i need to go through.

    just like love.

    i loved how u delivered this post. =)

  46. Math is my favorite subject from elementary up to college..

    i'm a math wizard.

  47. well its like clockwork, except, (this is my buddhist plug), everything is in a state of change and does not neatly conform to mechanical (clock) time. so, the limbic brain helps make a stable reality but must also constantly learn and make mistakes and change.

  48. @stan ~ yeah it's a part of life and if you don't run the risk, you could never learn.

    @alkapon~ buti ka pa! haha eh sa love? wizard ka rin ba?

    @lof ~ (initial reaction) *nosebleed*

    i guess that's easy for you because you have a different set of beliefs. i have a very firm view of time and stuff. haha

  49. what different beliefs have we got? the belief that reality is subject to the law of impermanence (buddhist) or that time exists only as a psychological experience (modern physics)? *wiping up the nose blood*

  50. my 51st comment. wow. i've never experienced this before.

    @LOF ~ i meant different faiths. i grew up in a protestant setting and while my beliefs are a little different now, i don't really believe in buddhist stuff- except when it suits me. haha like karma. i like karma. but i don't think there are gods who move behind the curtain to arrange it.

    modern physics? not really a nosebleed moment. more of a hemorrhage na. aaaaaaarrrghhhh//

  51. wow i got it backwards. I hated math and took a liberal arts course. now i work in a bank.

    i dont knw u personally but *hug*

  52. i guess that's life. it makes your decisions for you.

    welcome to my blog. your page was an interesting start to my day.

  53. Hi, some insights about trial and error! I just read before this that without errors the trials wouldn't accomplish anything.

    Good to stumble upon an old blog. And a fool once said blogs are dead.

    1. January Roads: I believe I was one of those fools. I hope blogging hasn't left for good. :)


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