Reading with Numbers…the Upside Down Calculator

It’s the third week of our year long calligraphy group and this week’s prompt was reading with numbers. The idea was to exchange numbers for letters and spell words or a phrase that could still be legible. Once I read the prompt all I could think about was using my first calculator in Mr Greenlee’s Math class to make words. This memory made me giggle, so I created this version using the numbers 376616, which on an upside down calculator spells the word giggle. I used a gel printed background then added Sharpie and Copic markers, colored pencils and some generic marker. Around the edge I wrote other ‘words’ you can spell on an upside down calculator.

Sometimes you have to turn a problem upside down to really see it. Looking at things from only one perspective usually only yields one view. To truly know what you are dealing with it means taking a good look – upside down, under, over, beneath, behind and cross-wise – to get a full view of everything. Dealing with a problem may mean using tools as they were not intended, like an upside down calculator. Only by being willing to adapt your tools and your perceptions are you able to ‘see’ things clearly.

Problems flummox us when we take ourselves too seriously. Being able to giggle and laugh at the situation allows us to relieve the pressure and release our ingenuity. The problem may not seem funny right now, the seriousness of the issue may prevent a healthy perspective. These are the moments when time and quiet allow us to take a deep breath, pray, and gather our thoughts. It is when humor jumps into the space that our thoughts are able to focus on some other way of approaching the issue.

Somewhere in the midst of a problem turning things upside down and being able to see the humor provides an idea, a solution, a path to move forward. I hate to say I learned this in Math class, yet that upside down calculator somehow registered in my brain and popped up decades later to inspire this idea. Sorry Mr Greenlee!

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