I read the word ‘infinity symbol’ today and struggled to recall an image that matched the word. It was so familiar but I had packed it away in a dusty corner of my mind. What did the symbol look like? What did it mean?

It didn’t take long for the image above to pop into my mind and some googling showed me I was correct.

The infinity symbol ∞

The word infinity is from the Latin ‘without end’. Back in the day, I used it in maths and science. It meant something that never came to an end; like a recurring decimal place, for example. One third equals 0.3333333 into infinity. Numbers are infinite because you could count forever and never get to the last number. Space is also believed to be infinite.

John Wallis is thought to have introduced the infinity symbol, as far as its mathematical meaning, in 1655. The concept of infinity is critical in calculus and set theory. But infinity doesn’t have a set number and exists only as an abstract concept. Something can be infinitely small or infinitely large.

It is said that parallel lines meet at infinity – quite a mind-bending notion. I’m not going to get into the concept of infinity in mathematics here, although I’d love to take a trip down that lane.

Instead, how can infinity help us in the present day? For many, this symbol holds deep meaning. It represents a sense of simplicity and balance, both elements which can guide us in this uncertain world. If we view such things as the corona virus as a distraction, then we can remind ourselves that we are part of infinity and let that principle guide our lives.

Look at the mountains and the creatures, the ocean and the stars. All these daily parts of our world have been present for aeons. They are old and patient and will still be present when we are dust. And the molecules that make us will become new structures for the world into the future.

If we look outside ourselves and use infinity as a reminder of our insignificance, perhaps we can put the current crisis into perspective; indeed we may be able to approach any situation with a more healthy outlook.

I don’t say this to lecture in any way. I fluctuate between optimism and pessimism on a daily basis. However, I’m trying not to let this current world crisis drag me into its vortex. And I’m searching for ways in which to put it into perspective, one day at a time.

This too shall pass. Ensure you are better for the experience, no matter how it affects your current existence.

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