It begins and ends with a number. A dreadful sound shatters the stillness of my slumber and I open my eyes to see 3 green and glowing numbers looming ominously over my rapidly-dissolving dreams. 6:00 a.m.
In the midst of a heat wave, I turn on the news to channel 3 see how hot it is actually going to get today so I’ll know exactly how much or how little to wear. 95. With a heat index of 110.
Stumbling down the stairs to my non-air-conditioned main floor, I glance at the thermostat. It says 84. I say a curse word.
With great fear and trepidation I climb onto the scale before climbing into the shower to estimate the damages from my nephew’s 11th birthday celebration the night before. XXX lbs., XX.X BMI … these numbers are for my eyes only. But I do utter another curse word.
Sitting down with a 200-calorie breakfast comprised of 8 oz. of OJ and 8 oz. of cereal with 4 oz. of milk, I obsessively check the stats on my blog page. At 7:20 a.m., there have been 23 views, 2 comments and 9 referrals. 0 new subscriptions. On Facebook, I have 1 notification, 2 messages, 1 invitation to play FarmVille and 1 friend request. I accept the friend request. I have 664 friends. Nope… make that 663. Someone just dumped me. Somewhere in the distance I hear a muffled scream as my profile goes swoosh into the virtual trash can belonging to the loser who unfriended me.
Out the door with 20 minutes to spare, I have the misfortune of getting behind 2 of the slowest-moving utility vehicles you’ve ever seen. They are doing 35 in a 55. At this rate, I will be 10 minutes late. Eventually I pass them doing 85 (I imagine my speeding ticket will cost well over $100) and wind up behind 1 even-slower moving 18-wheeler carrying 3 steel coils on a 2-lane highway. I follow him for 4 miles at 45 MPH. Make that 15-minutes late.
The word count so far is 335. In case you’re curious. Though now that I’ve used more words to tell you that… it is higher.
Miraculously only 10 minutes late to work, I have 5 unread messages and 7 projects to complete before 5 p.m. As a graphic designer, my work day is infinitely full of numbers… dates, times, account numbers, quantities and measurements. Therefore, I will spare you the details of the bulk of my day.
At 12:00 noon I call Verizon Wireless to give them $112.68. There is $XXX.XX remaining in my bank account. I utter yet another curse word.
By 5:00 p.m., there are exactly 6 hours left in the day before bedtime. Another obsessive check of blog stats and Facebook: 71 views, 8 comments and 11 referrals. 1 new subscription. Facebook offers 3 notifications, 1 message, 0 friend requests. Dinner at 7, a 2-hour phone call starting at 8 and 1 hour of reading, watching TV, writing or painting my nails before the clock strikes 11. I must get at least 7 hours of sleep a night or I’ll be a hot, cranky mess the next day. Just ask my loved-ones.
Turn off the TV, check the thermostat… 86. Curse word. Lights out. 11:03 p.m.
I wrote this account (get it… account?) as an exercise when it occurred to me how much of my daily joy and pain is tied directly to NUMBERS. Why must we quantify our value based on hard numbers… from how much we weigh to how much we earn? From how many virtual “friends” we have to how many people visited or commented on our blog today? For 1 day I’d like to ignore these “values” … and derive my worth from that which cannot be counted. Who’s with me?