Points of Decision

A n inflection point, in differential calculus, is a point on a curve at which the curvature changes sign. This means that the curve changes from being concave downwards (negative curvature) to concave upwards (positive curvature), or vice versa. If you were driving along a winding road, the inflection is the point at which the steering-wheel is momentarily “straight” when it is turned from left to right or vice versa.

Another important distinction in calculus is what is known as a critical point. These lie on the curves described above, and are never the same as the inflection points. The geometric interpretation of what is taking place at a critical point is that the tangent line is either horizontal or vertical. At a non-critical point on the curve, neither of those two conditions exists.

Finally, there is what is known as a stationary point, an input to a function of a curve where the derivative is zero (equivalently, the slope is zero). It is where the function “stops” increasing or decreasing (hence the name). A critical point is often confused with a stationary point. A critical point may be either a stationary point or a point where the derivative is not defined. Critical point is the more general term.

Life is rarely a straight line,* and involves many curves, and while it is very difficult to tell when a curve is coming up, it is important to prepare yourself and your vehicle (your mind and your body) so that you can best navigate the road of your life from inflection to critical and back to stationary points.

* “The straight line and flat plane must come here—of all places—but they should become the dotted line, the broad, low, extended plane textured because in all this astounding desert there is not one hard undotted line to be seen.” — F. L. Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright: An Autobiography. Petaluma, CA: Pomegranate Communications; 1943.

At their best, nutritional supplements are a form of calculus; knowledge of how they work can help you to calculate what you need to do to stay on the road. So they can take you where you want to go … with much greater assurance and safety. Stress is a degrading, albeit necessary, factor in the process of aging, but supplements, by reducing or alleviating stress, can operate to enable you to be vigilant and proactive at the three crucial points of your road trip.

Why is it that when life seems to be going your way, all of a sudden there’s a big turn, which often appears without announcement? That’s life, and the big turn may entail a crisis, especially if you haven’t done your due diligence. What’s important is that you’ve fortified yourself, so that you can take the crisis as easily as if you were in the full throws of your youth.

When the crisis is over, you want to return to the most desirable of all life’s physical states, homeostasis, a concept that derives from the Greek words hómoios (“similar”) and stásis (“standing still”). This is when all of your bodily systems are working in harmony to achieve the success of the whole, tending to maintain a stable, constant condition. The better to be able to achieve an equivalent mental condition.

The fact that you are reading this publication means that you are interested in health. But whether you have achieved your health goals, presumably to better navigate the road, can only ultimately be determined by your ownership of the following: “I am prepared … here come the curves … I can overcome the crisis.” This is the tipping point for which you are to be congratulated!

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