Balancing the equation

I am not a fan of math. That being said, I see it the same way I see laundry – a necessary evil. There really is no escaping it. It is vital in everything we do. We can’t successfully double a recipe without it. We can’t determine without math which is the better buy when comparing toilet paper. Most of us don’t have jobs where we spend all day writing complex equations on a whiteboard, but our lives are governed by numbers whether we realize it or not.

Each person is represented by a myriad of numbers that define their lives. From the very beginning we are assigned a birthdate that affects how the world views us and how we view the world. Age is a state of mind, but in reality, it’s a number…that’s all.

Our height and weight are defined by numbers.  There is a stigma that has been put on those numbers that can make someone feel inferior, ashamed, or even ridiculed because they are too far in one direction. Again, these are just numbers.

The funny thing is that they’re everywhere, but we’ve gotten so used to it that we may not realize just how many are used to associate us with the world. You have your phone number, social security number, salary, blood pressure…and the list goes on and on. The bottom line is that these numbers are inanimate objects. They only have power over us because we’ve given meaning to each of them. Some of us put more emphasis on one over the other…such as our weight or how quickly we can finish a 5K. Even as I’m typing this, my computer is telling me how many words I’ve written as if something amazing will happen once I reach a certain limit.

There really is no escaping the great numerical overlords, so instead I’m just going to have to live with them the best I can. While some, like my driver’s license number, will always be associated with me, there are some that I can choose to give more or less emphasis to moving forward. Emotions seem to appear as the result of a number changing – tears of joy when welcoming a first child into the world, fear from hearing a shocking test result, or concern over how you will be able to afford to pay your bills when you’ve lost a job and the only income you have is now gone.

There is one truth in math that I do agree with and that’s having a balanced equation. Our plethora of numbers can very easily tip our scale in one direction or the other and instantly cause an imbalance in our lives. Regardless of how far the range can sway, it will usually come back to the middle every so often. I say that it’s time we choose what defines us. Sure the numbers will always be there, but I’ve realized that what’s important can’t be defined numerically but rather felt emotionally. Maybe in the end it’s the results of the numbers that drive our happiness, and I should be glad they’re behind the scenes shaping my life and making me the person I am today and am yet to be.