Numbers are everywhere connected to everything we do.
We use them to measure years, months, weeks, days, hours, and seconds. We count them in dollars and cents. We measure in feet, inches, meters and yards.
The food we eat has a caloric number attached to it.
We regard success and failure and distinguish ourselves according to the number of each. We age by ever mounting time. We calculate and distribute. We find comfort in the fact that 2 + 2 will always equal 4.
Numbers have definite effect on us, that’s for sure.
Time gives us a schedule, a placement, the ability to organize. It also gives us stress and can be more like a noose around our necks than a comfortable guide. But no matter if your day is great or the worst of your life, it will still be just a day, 24 hours, 1,440 minutes, 86,400 seconds. You can’t slow it down, stop it or reverse it. And it affects our emotional, spiritual state of being.
I’m up at the crack of dawn. I start my day job at 7:30 AM. By the time I’m done with work, driving the kids to various practices and jobs, cook dinner, write and exercise, I get done around 9:00 PM — That’s thirteen and a half hours running and doing. Some days it’s longer than that depending on my writing schedule and homework helping. Anyone in my house can confirm it’s best to leave me alone for at least thirty minutes or suffer my wrath.
I want more hours, minutes and seconds in the day. I never seem to have enough time to get everything done. I don’t want more hours for the day job, thank you very much, but more time to write, to love, to talk, to listen, to play? Yes please!
If I could get another hour, another five minutes, with my Oma (grandmother)- who was fitted for wings and a halo twenty-one years ago- I would do just about anything for that…but it just doesn’t work like that.
If you make six figures you’re considered very successful by most people and your life is probably comfortable. Comfortable people tend to smile more. These kinds of numbers are good.
If you’re making minimum wage you are probably barely getting by and are stressed out all the time. Stress sucks. No one is walking around saying, “man I wish I had more stress in my life.” You’re counting every penny and calculating, by numbers, how you will live this fourth month of 2014. The six figure dude is doing the same thing, but it’s NOT the same thing.
When we go to the doctor they show us a chart and ask, “on a scale of one to ten, ten being the worst, how do you feel?” Here, unlike when you’re counting money, the higher number is bad. Take care of yourself and stay out of the high-number- zone!
How many people look at the number on the scale and wish it would go down ten… twenty…fifty pounds? I’m right there with you! Women. We can be so dopey about weight. Now, if the loss of five or ten pounds would solve world hunger, then by all means, let’s worry about it and do it together! But it won’t. And losing five or ten pounds won’t solve anyone’s problems. Just ask the skinny people.
How about if you’re sick? The lower scale numbers will have an alarmingly different effect on you. We use the measurement of weight as a sign of health or a lack there of. When new parents go to a check up, one of the first things done is weighing the little peanut. The first thing the parents do when they leave is call the grandparents. And what’s the first thing they talk about? Yuppers, it’s the baby’s weight. Or was that just us because of the enormity of my babies? HA!
A person whose numbers on the scale go over what is considered to be a healthy weight, get a different kind of report. As far as the scale goes, how do we know what numbers are the good ones? We have charts and ratios, calculations and formulas, based on other numbers called percentages, and we categorize ourselves into groups of the majority, the minority, or some sideshow weirdness. I say that because I was always freaky-weird-tall in comparison to other girls my age.
Why do we care about the percentile chart? Or the height and weight chart? Because, we all want to be part of the majority(another number) on the chart, the group that makes us feel normal, the calculated sweet spot. This area gives people a feeling of safety.
We count them, mount them, stack ém, and keep track of them. The more success we can count up, the better we feel. And sure, why not. It’s okay to be proud of our accomplishments. Our successes become a private little parade in our heads with cheerleaders waving pom-poms and holding signs that say, “well done! Keep going! Awesome sauce! Don’t fuck this up!”
My little cheerleaders are edgy. They’re allowed to curse.
Ugh. We count, stack and keep track of these suckers too, maybe even more so. Failure is the glue on the bottom of your shoe holding you back. The numbers of failures we have make us feel bad about ourselves, which translates into, moodiness, hostility and depression.
Kick off the glue-shoes, learn from mistakes and move on! Have you ever heard the term, “chasing yourself in circles?” You don’t go anywhere in a circle except back to the same spots you’ve already been. Stop counting all your failures.
Wait. Let’s count all of them. Tick them off on your fingers, toes, brother’s and sister’s too if you’ve really messed up. Stack them up high until they become the Leaning Tower of Piazza and it’s about to crush you. Feel the shittiness, the enormity. Now, look at them one last time…flip ‘em the bird and let them go to their eternal resting place, a place I like to call, been there/done that. Set a mental bonfire and be done with it.
Oh boy, I’ve really been feeling these numbers lately. My parents and a very dear friend moved away recently. *wails on floor like a fool* I have never felt the weight of stretching miles as much as I do now.
But then there are other long miles that make us feel fabulous; a trip overseas for vacation, a road trip to see something on your bucket list or (if you are into it) marathons.
Fun fact: The New York City Marathon is a 42, 195 meter, 26.2 mile race. The 2013 winner, Geoffrey Mutai, did it in 2:05:06. He set the record this past year running a 2:04 mile. Wicked fast!!
This one’s worse than weight! LOL
I remember turning ten and thinking it was the absolute bestest day of my life. Whoot hoot, double digits! Maybe that’s just because I’m the youngest of three and my brother and sister had been in the double digits for five years before I got there. I gotta say I’m not nearly as exited now about my double digits!
I wished away a lot of time back then. As soon as I turned ten I wanted to be thirteen. Once I was thirteen I wanted to be sixteen. At sixteen I wanted to be twenty-one. When my kids were babies I wanted to get past the not sleeping phase. When we accomplished that, I wanted out of the diaper phase. With maturity I’ve learned to stop wishing time away. You can’t get it back.
Age also marks places in time. We do ritualistic, traditional things based on age.
Why do we keep track of our age? Who said that was important?
One year olds usually have a big family party. Parents: skip the clowns. Trust me on this.
When you’re five you begin kindergarten.
At seven you make your First Holy Communion (if you’re one of my clan).
At thirteen, you have a Bar/Bat mitzvah or Confirmation.
Sixteen you drive.
At eighteen you graduate high school and you’re legal to join the military and shoot our enemies in battle. But you’re not legal to have a beer until you’re twenty-one…unless you live in Sweden in which case you can drink in a pub at eighteen.
I’m not against the military, NOT by ANY means, and I’m not encouraging underage drinking. I’m simply rambling as it comes to me. It happens. Plus my sixteen year old keeps reminding me she will be in Sweden for her eighteenth birthday.
I could go on and on about numbers, highways, routes, longitude, latitude, days and months.
Why is it so important for us to know where we are, what time it is, how long till the next thing we do, count downs, count ups, lengths, distances, spaces…
Does it really matter? I guess in some ways. I mean, if I don’t keep track of the hour the kids will be late to school and I’ll be late to work. Or, if I submit my work to an agent and my category is YA and my word count is not in keeping with my genre, then I look like an unprofessional ass. I try not to look like an ass of any kind as much as possible. So in that respect, yeah, it matters.
We need it to find point B from point A. Otherwise we might end up in the ocean.
Numbers are a universal language. Whoever you are and where ever you are, 2 = 1 plus another. If you’re human, you know this, and it works. I get that. I’m on board with that.
What I don’t want is to be defined by my number (age), charts(height & weight), location(longitude and latitude), my ethnicity(majority/minority), or my calculations(success & failures).
And I don’t want to define or judge anyone else by a poll taken or a survey done or a room full of some bodies that determined it to be a certain way based on what’s normal or acceptable.
Normal? What the heck is normal anymore?
I think we have to make our own normal. If you’re not hurting anyone, including yourself, and you’re leading your life by a moral compass– that should be the normal.
A moral compass does not have arrows pointing North, South, East and West, but rather, Kind, Loving, Generous, and Gentle, which equates to a multiplier of peace. I’d like for that to be my guide.
I’d like to find a way to make that a universal language. That sounds better than math to me!
PEACE out until next time!