As we go through the journey of life, certain experiences leave lasting impressions and create a deeper meaning for us than others. Mine involves a triangle.

As a 4-year-old, I attended kindergarten in the Liberty Bell School in Pittsburgh. I enjoyed music time, when we all chose an instrument and marched in a parade around the room. The choice of instruments included drums, sticks, bells and other things that made a noise.

My favorite was the metal triangle, with a metal stick.

You could hit the outside of the triangle with the stick to make a sound, or put it in the center of the triangle and turn it around in a circle, hitting all three sides.

I do not remember how the instruments were assigned, but sometimes I got my beautiful triangle, and sometimes I didn't. However, one experience left a lasting impression. I remember one day, something was not fair about the assigning of the instruments. It was my turn for the triangle and it was unfairly taken from me. I was heartbroken. At an early age, I learned that things are not always fair and just.

However, my love for the triangle continued through life. It is no wonder that as a math teacher my favorite course to teach is geometry, with all the theorems and postulates about triangles. The triangle is the strongest polygon because in all of the other polygons, all of the angles can change. There is nothing to stop them. However in the triangle, the angles cannot change once the triangle is built. The angles are fixed because it has three sides and three angles, and each angle is fixed by the side opposite to it.

Triangles are strong and special. Way back in kindergarten, I must have known this. People build with triangles when great strength is needed, such as bridges and the Epcot dome.

The triangle is common in all sorts of building supports and trusses. A building needs to be put together in the right order, starting with a strong structure using bracing to help stop the building from moving and shifting. A brace is made whenever a triangle shape is made in a structure. A triangle forms the strongest brace because it won't buckle, bend or collapse out of shape under pressure. You can find bracing in a building in the walls, ceiling and floor, but you don't normally see it when the ceiling, walls and floor are finished.

The triangle has followed me through my career. When I teach in the construction classes, I am surrounded by the triangle shapes in the buildings.

My personal triangle story that started as a 4-year-old involves patience. Sixty-two years later, I took my two granddaughters to their weekly music class. I've been to this class before and always enjoy the songs and dancing and seeing my grandchildren swing with the beat of the music. But this time something very special happened to me. The teacher emptied a bag of instruments onto the floor for the children and grown-ups to select and play and march with the music. There were so many choices, but among them there were a few of my beloved triangles. Parents and children scrambled to retrieve their favorite instrument. I watched and waited, I wanted to be fair. I held my breath as each triangle was chosen.

Finally after everyone but me had made their selection, several instruments were left. Among them was one triangle, one very strong triangle. The triangle that was the cause of my impressionable experience. The triangle that I love in geometry. The triangle that I work with in carpentry and other technical classes. I picked it up with a lump in my throat. I marched around that room very proudly, and happily played the triangle, flashing back to my kindergarten days. I hit the outside of the triangle; I turned the stick inside, hitting all three sides. I loved it. I did not want it to end.

Many things are unfair in life, but through life's journey you never know when that unfair experience can turn into a time of total enjoyment and appreciation of the moment, with a deeper understanding as a result. Sometimes dreams and goals are fulfilled immediately. Sometimes, these dreams may be fulfilled decades later.

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