Mathematically, it makes no sense at all. I’m no genius, but I’m pretty sure that:


So imagine my surprise when I realized that math does not always apply to human relationships!

He’s young, just a kid. He’s quiet, timid, and today his energy was a bit low. We’ve spent the last couple of weeks getting to know each other, and I’ve begun to realize that he’s a little shocked and secretly delighted by my oddball, sometimes inappropriate, sense of humor.

Well, today, I was a little tired, too. But, as soon as I saw him, I decided I wasn’t going to let up until some of my energy had rubbed off on him.

I gathered up all of the reserves of joy I had floating around in my body. I tapped into my kids’ accomplishments of the week, unexpected kind words from friends, and the happiness of seeing a new baby chick in my coop this morning. I concentrated them into a ray of super-love and let that poor kid have it with both barrels.

I charmed, I teased, I joked. I tugged the reins out of his hands when he wasn’t expecting it, bringing a twinkle of competition to his eyes. I complimented him on everything he did right. And what do you know…his energy began creeping up. He sat a little taller and held those reins a little more assertively and started riding his horse around like a boss.

Here’s where the math problem comes in. With every bit of the energy he took from me, my energy increased! The more he took, the more I had to give.

This is the beauty of giving, especially areas in which you’re passionate. The giving boosts the giver. In the words of Mary Oliver, “Give until the giving feels like receiving.”

I’ve always been fascinated by that biblical verse in Ecclesiastes: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it.” Or, the old loaves and fishes miracle, in which a multitude is fed with just 5 hunks of bread and a couple of fish.

The skeptic in me says that this does not make any sense. You can’t throw something into an ocean and expect to get it back. Matter does not multiply itself.  1 takeaway 1 equals zero.

But every time I throw my bread on the water, every time that I give until the giving feels like receiving, I begin to think that some kind of magic is afoot. Otherwise, how is it possible to empty myself for 4 hours, and leave feeling full?

You know what? I always hated math. I’ll take magic any day.