Tuesday, May 15, 2007

And Counting

Life is one big numbers game -- whether or not we're partial to mathematics. Unfortunately! More than a few aspects of our lives revolve around them. And though we try to focus on the quality of our lives, these quantities tend to intervene and make various elements of life more tangible.

The most common one, I would presume, is money. Whether or not this is the most important, you decide. However, money faces a lot of mixed reviews in the world. Some don't think anything of it, some long for it, some make it their priority... and some even worship it. We devote almost half our lives (maybe even more) trying to earn money and making those figures in our bank accounts fatter and fatter. In exchange for what? Material objects that are yet again measurable by quantity -- more cars in the garage, higher carats of diamonds, a big house with more rooms than the old one, more pairs of shoes even? Relatedly, everything around us seems to be labeled with a price tag -- rent, phone bills, damages on the credit card after a shopping spree, insurance fees, and the list goes on. More numbers that plague us.

We work to be able to get our numbers up, just to fulfill the requirements of these other numbers.

Is it me, or does that not make any sense when it's put that way?

Another big hoo-ha... age! We like convincing ourselves that age is just a number. However, in reality, it grates us all inside knowing that the number that indicates our years of existence is piling up everyday. If only there was a way to stop it... and yet be able to keep the wisdom and knowledge that we've swept up along the way.

Even growing up, during our school days, our lives revolved around numbers. We worked hard to attain high grades, to get as many credits for college, to get the topmost rankings in our class -- essentially to be numero uno. And you'd think that the number fever stops the moment you write off that last calculus exam. It's only bound to get worse.

We, as people, get characterized as numbers as well. Regardless of the fact that we all have names, we are still numbers in many places. We are in possession of various numbers that identify us such as our social security numbers, drivers license numbers, identification card numbers, passport numbers, name it! Surely, we have at least half a million of numbers tied to our names. And these lurking chatter about getting microchips inside us with unique barcodes on them? I won't be surprised if governments spring that on us one of these days. Ethical or not, that's saved for another day.

Economic indicators have also become a strong foothold in our lives. We even use it as excuses or motivation sometimes. "Times are tough and a little bit tight because the economy's down." Or perhaps "Oil prices are skyrocketing, it's time to save up." Economists -- a special type of mathematicians, safe to say -- swim in a sea of numbers everyday. And through these numbers, lifestyles and living standards are dictated. Everything is measured from poverty to per capita income to gross domestic products to inflation to trade. It's all these numbers that we bank on everyday... and it's through these numbers that we fashion our lives on.

Furthermore, evolution and technology have made it possible that we can be profiled by using pure numbers -- our age, how much we make, how many kids we have, what grade point average we achieved, how many of this and that we own, and so on. Why? Why is everything quantified? Sure, to make assessments clearer and quicker. But tell me -- how accurate is it? Numbers may say a lot about us, but it definitely does not tell the whole story.

One set of numbers that we are definitely conscious of is time. We are conscious of it, yet we don't necessarily appreciate it. The numbers on our clocks, our watches, the corners of our computers, those on the towers of municipal halls -- they all indicate time. We find ourselves constantly asking what time it is because usually, each hour of the day is connected to a particular activity such as eating a meal, working, sleeping or resting. However, we don't realize that time actually runs out. Unlike most of the other numbers involved in our lives, this one doesn't pile up. Quite the opposite, it dissipates.

Maybe there is a reason why God has created people who are good in math... and people who are not. It's bad enough that our lives are composed of so many numbers. There has got to be some people who look at quality, too. If everything in life can be specified and quantified, then risks, mistakes and trials are all thrown out the window. What else is there to live for? Numbers allow us to concretize certain concepts... but words allow us to live them.

After all, if not for the letters in the alphabet, what else will algebra use?

I will not deny, however, that mathematics and life have something in common: that both start off simply... only to end in an utterly complicated mess!


Blogger riseoutofme said...

Ask any accountant .. there is something very satisfying about getting books to balance, having everything ordered, neat, tidy and all wrapped up.

Unfortunately, life isn't like that.

Its a sign of our times, unfortunately, that we are all reduced, to some extent, to a mere number.

Says a lot about our social athmosphere.

9:13 PM  
Blogger mystic rose said...

sort of depressing, no?

and all the best things in life are free. but i guess htis too depends on the way you look at it.

as long as there is no will to 'possess' what we like, we could enjoy a lot.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Aditi said...

hmm its a shame we are reduced to a mere number but in the end we are a mere statistic.. a blip on the radar

10:39 PM  
Blogger Glamorous Redneck said...

So very sad but true about the monetary business. And the age thing. I wish that it wouldn't bother me as much as it does, but then I wouldn't have anything to complain about and THAT would be a tragedy! :)

PS I LOVE your blog name! Thanks for stopping by mine.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous susan said...

I always think that I'm bad with numbers, but I guess they really do surround us.

Although, in truth, I still don't pay much attention to them. They don't have much meaning to me...maybe I just live in my own little world too much because I just don't remember them. Phone numbers are stored in my phone, money...we have enough, my ss# is in my husband's head, I have to ask my kids how old I am (really!), and use a timer if I have to be somewhere.

I guess I refuse to be just a number. (or maybe I just refuse to acknowledge it)

11:08 PM  
Blogger LADY LUXIE said...

I respect numbers but don't think much about them...

money..ye'..specially now that me' kids need to go back to school..but money flows....in..out...in..ot..in..over and over...

age...am' 39 and kinda' proud...some women fear the numbers in their years..I revel in it....look forward to more numbers..I feel I get better the more I put on...

waitaminute'....hmmmm' when I was a kid..I feared numbers....hah!..finally...I think..the math and me...well we're beginning to be a wee' bit friendly...ye'

hugs :>

11:55 PM  
Blogger zanas said...

well said!!!

p.s. the only numbers i hate are those on my weighing scale.

12:16 AM  
Blogger Battlerocker said...

Very true. We spend so much of our lives trying to quantify the things that were never meant to be counted.

12:33 AM  
Blogger Cuckoo said...

"mathematics and life have something in common: that both start off simply... only to end in an utterly complicated mess! "

How true !

12:36 AM  
Blogger Craig D said...

Suddenly, numbers seem so... sinister!

And what about roman numerals? There, letters are numbers! Wha..?

1:04 AM  
Blogger The Exception said...

I understand the importance of numbers but there are things in life that you just can't quantify - love, friendship, kids, nature, etc. A friend of mine is trying to quantify a thought process for his dissertation. When do we say "enough is enough" and realize that there is quality lost when we reduce everything to a numeric value?

1:30 AM  
Blogger MONA said...

yes you are right. We, specially humans have been reduced to mere statistics.
Perhaps because of the population boom!

2:06 AM  
Blogger minijonb said...

don't get me started on numerology... i'll spout a bunch of nonsense.

but the older i get, the more convinced i am that money really is the root of all evil.

3:29 AM  
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3:35 AM  
Blogger HippieChyck said...

this is an interesting concept. when it comes to money, i like to think that i chase it in order to buy freedom. at some stage it may be possible to have enough to allow you to live more simply: if you don't have to pay rent anymore, for instance.

when it comes to age - yes, this one i *do* keep track of! i have a basic sense of what i want to have achieved by when, and it definitely is an ongoing hourglass in my head...

4:58 AM  
Anonymous Geet said...

I've always had a love hate relationship with math, more hate than love really:)

But of late, I've realised that the numbers game is here to stay.


9:54 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Love the conclusion.

11:40 AM  
Blogger Lucid Darkness said...

Everything about this post, starting from the introduction to the numerous examples of life being controlled by numbers and ending with the conclusion shows remarkably lucid thinking.

Numbers are here to stay. However, you don't have to hate Mathematics or numbers to realise that life is more than numbers, more than taking 'stock' of the material possessions that you have, more than slogging day in and day out to procure more of these itemized possessions.

At the end of the day, all that really counts is whether you're satisfied with how you've spent your day, how you've lived your life, isn't it?

Numbers DON'T tell the whole story. How very very true!

Loved it! :D

1:05 PM  
Blogger Jeya Anand said...

well..an essay abt numbers...hmm gud...
mathematics and life have something in common: that both start off simply... only to end in an utterly complicated mess!
thats really true...thats y i didnt choose mathematics as my main sub....:)

1:29 PM  
Blogger The Stormin Mormon said...

Economists practice some weird form of voodoo...

I don't find any of it depressing in the least. I see my life as a series of achieved goals, and future goals. While I'm not getting everything done, it's all about working towards those goals. And a lot of them involve numbers, which is the way it has to be. You need SOME WAY to measure performance and achievement.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Protegeoflife said...

isnt life a mathematic equation taht no matter how much we solve the solution is death but we don wanna arrive at answer well written

3:09 PM  
Blogger nel said...

hah, from love to math ... what will be next with the Princess's wondering mind, but I will leave this comment with a quote ...

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler ~ Albert Einstein

... cheers for the day ... :)

4:39 PM  
Blogger Princess Extraordinaire said...

Can I be number 1?

2:50 AM  
Blogger foam said...

i used to have a sweatshirt as a teen that had this printed on it....
i try hard, but i'm still #2.
no telling how many #s i had attached to myself by that age.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Lisa Francisco aka AVIANA said...

So right on the numbers thing! so right!

it sucks that we created numbers...we can erase it...

however life is made up of balances....can't have the yin without the yang

8:37 AM  
Blogger steven karl said...

it's funny that thing they call money

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, i wish i acted and looked more my age, i hate math in general, and i wish someone would tell my mother that my biological clock has several more years before it stops ticking.

12:21 PM  
Blogger soul&body said...

sincerelly i nevedr liked numbers, i am bad with it and yes is all about numbers!!!
but seeing well, without numbers, we wouldnt be here in front this compueter, we wouldnt have electricity and more things isnt =P

6:21 PM  
Blogger Anu said...

"I will not deny, however, that mathematics and life have something in common: that both start off simply... only to end in an utterly complicated mess!"--- sooooo true...

Yeah numbers do tend to rule our lives right from the day we are born till the very end...we value somethin only based on the quantity and the amount of gain we have in it..

i have heard that scientists hve seen people go mad if put in a closed room without a clock...we have become so constricted because of TIME.

some are so devoted to numbers that they even change their names according to numerology in the belief that some abstract calcultion will bring them luck...

numbers are unfortunate but yet form an intrical cog in our everyday lives...

7:56 PM  
Blogger Nivi said...

Necessary evil i guess... dont wanna live with them but cant live without them!!!

7:58 PM  
Blogger Sigma said...

This is an interesting concept, or way of thinking. The only things that we cannot measure are abstract - and we call these as our emotions. We try to measure the things - that we call materialistic - perhaps because at a concious or subconcious level, we want to compare ourselves with some reference point - that we think defines our satisfaction level [it is another matter that it can never be met! - when you reach that level, the desire would be for something better!!].

2:14 AM  
Blogger Irresistible Desires.. said...

hmm..i love the ending..

n i like d way u think..numbers matter so much..

3:24 AM  
Anonymous Seven of Seven said...

I won't be surprised if in the future someone decides that names are irrelevant and that we should all be referred to by numbers - a la Borg style. I'm sure my mother would embrace that idea whole heartedly. As it is she already refers to us by our birth number when introducing us to people - after all, who will bother to memorize the names of 7 children. "This is Number 3, Number 2 is over there talking on the phone, Number 5 is the one with 2 kids . . ." And that was way before Seven of Nine ever graced the small screen!

3:26 AM  
Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Well said!

Have a signal for now, nice to see you again.

6:11 AM  
Blogger `NEFTY said...

I've also been feeling that money IS making the world go 'round && round

8:02 AM  
Blogger fifi said...

well, numbers arent the most important thing, I suppose.
Counting the years is less horrifying than wathing the results on your FACE!!!

2:51 PM  
Blogger Ab said...

hmmm... good writing.
i used to be in accounts.. got mad with myself that i quit my job and even changed the industry i worked at, and Im sure it changed my life for th good. Im still with money, but its not the numbers game anymore. About age, I really dont cae, weight, havent checked in the last 2 years... (of course, Im not on the shhh... side of either..
But Iv learnt that money does matter. like the mastercard ad, there are indeed some things which dont depend on money. but the rest... it damn well does matter.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Shamash said...

couldn't have expressed it better....
thats life in a nutshelll
nice post princess

7:39 PM  
Blogger Sling said...

I've heard tell of a tribe in Africa that has no word for the number "three"..They've gotten along just fine for centuries!(More than 2 years,by their reckoning).

12:55 PM  
Blogger Neo said...

loved the conclusion!! so true!

2:07 PM  
Blogger steven karl said...

sometimes it's not so funny that thing about money

5:52 AM  
Blogger paddy said...

And who said God does not roll dice. Someone did I can't remember now.
Mathematics no doubt are used to create a model by which we may understand the world we live in, but they will never reveal the reality. We just use the numbers to cope wit reality. Someone else said: man thinks and God laughs.
It is a bit like I think, putting a name on things; if we can put a name on something we can have power over it- makes us feel secure. Enough said.
Y;-) Paddy_ just a name.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Superficial Gibbering prater said...

Numbers are there everywhere..love them or hate them..i liked the flow....the post is a compelling read...gr8 work....

12:28 PM  

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