Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Numbers, Who Needs 'Em

It’s tax season, which means piles of paper with numbers on them, on various horizontal surfaces.


One measure of abundance and joy



And January is also a time for end-of-year reflection and beginning-of-the-year inspiration energy. 


"It's February," you say, and I say, "Okay, yes, I see what you mean." January's possibilities might have evaporated by now, this February. But have others appeared? Also: as I am trying to remember, what even is pandemic time?


Regardless, the juxtaposition of the two energies (numbers and inspiration) is weird—helpful in some ways, not so much in others.


Here’s the thing about numbers: they measure some things really well. Money coming in and going out, for example. The number of words written, the number of pitches/pieces/novels/poems/whatever you wrote.


But they don’t measure everything. 


We all know about smart goals: specific/measurable, or is it meaningful?/attainable/r-something/t-something. (I "did my own research,"  meaning, "I googled." R is for relevant, T is for time-based--perhaps it's not surprising that these concepts, in this pandemic world, are the ones I forgot.)


So sure, you can attach numbers to goals.


But numbers don’t measure other things. Like inspiration and dreams. Satisfaction. Success. Good feelings, or bad ones, for that matter. 


No matter how many stars someone assigned to the experience of reading your book. And no matter how often someone says, "On a scale from 1 to 10, how much pain are you in?"


What level does your daughter read at? Number. How much does she enjoy reading? Not a number.


I don't mind dealing with the numbers. In answer to the question in the title of this post, we all need numbers. Including (especially?) me, in spite (or because) of my tendency to the dreamier side of life. I can see their importance, even as I recognize their limitations. 


As I total income and expenses, words accumulated, readers and sales and reviews, acceptances and rejections, I keep in mind this non-numerical measure: how much do I love the life I'm living? 


A lot, turns out, even with pandemic/civil unrest/long winter nights/unrelenting February frigid temps/difficulty feeling I have something relevant or valuable to say. 


A lot. A very important, if non-numerical measure. A lot.