I have always been fascinated by numbers. Please don't mis-read that. I loathe math and can just barely get by on the simplest arithmetic. But I really truly love numbers. Integers and all of the different things they represent to different people. I was very influenced by Sesame Street as a kid (who in my generation wasn't?), and while all of the major plot lines have since been replaced with more important things in my cramped cranium, I often refer to the Socratic wisdom gleaned from the vignettes between scenes. One Ernie and Bert sketch featured Ernie asking Bert what his favorite number was. Bert, true to form, replied in song, singing the praises of the number 6. The number 6 meant something different to him than it did to anyone else.
I wonder if other people have such passionate positions on what their favorite numbers are. I have a special place in my heart for the number 36. Always have, always will. I like the symmetry of it, divisible by so many other numbers (1,2,3,4,6,9,12,18,36--I have just exhausted my arithmetic capacity for the month!). Also, if I am not mistaken, 36 is 6 squared, so it is sort of a homage to that old sketch that had such a profound influence on my life.
It just occurred to me how random a topic this may be to the wondering blog-reader. One thing that you will learn quickly is that I am only random on the outside. If I suddenly change topics, it is following a very rapid succession of connected thoughts in my head; it's all connected. If you would ever like to know, don't hesitate to ask! I would never expect you to guess how my brain works. It's a complicated thing... But I digress.
I came upon this topic when I was reflecting on the number 24. 24 is a number that means something to almost everyone, definitely everyone I know. What gets me is how much it changes depending on how you look at it. Sometimes I am intimidated by how large and daunting a number it is. Other times I get anxiety attacks over how small a number it is. Sometimes I am swimming in the luxury of it and other times I am choked by the structure of it. How does one number inspire such diverse reactions?
I imagine most people, when thinking about the number 24, immediately think of the number of hours in a day. With good reason. We are a civilization governed by time. Everything we do or hope to accomplish is within the confines of a complicated time table. We allow ourselves to focus on the limitations; only so many hours in a day, only so many days in a month, only so many months in a year, only so many years in a lifetime... Doesn't that just make you curl up in a ball and die? It suffocates me, just thinking about it.
So I try not to think about it that way. Instead of saying "I only have 24 hours in a day" I tend towards thinking "I have 24 whole hours in a day!" It's much more uplifting, much more open. It feels like there's tons of time to just experience the world! To live life! It makes me want to throw open the shutters and rush into nature full speed, and fly headlong down a hill, limbs akimbo until I rest, panting, at the bottom, exploring the depths of the clouds above me. There is something so appealing about limbs being akimbo. I connect that with being a kid again. Because when I was a kid, I didn't cower before the god of time, the dictator of the adult world. When I was a kid, time was nothing and limbs were akimbo.
Of course, I have had that mentality backfire occasionally. The most obvious example is the day before vacation. To have to wake up the day before such a thrilling adventure and realize that you still have 24 whole hours to go! I find that kind of ache unbearable. I once did a 24 hour fast for hunger and homelessness awareness week. It was a good experience, very humbling, and I am glad that I got to do it. But that was a loooonnngg 24 hours. I didn't want it to be 24 "whole" hours. I probably could have handled 24 quarter hours (you see, I like to eat a lot and on a regular basis). But I made it and I would do it again, that's not in question. Just another perspective on the many many faces of the number 24.
From another perspective, 24 animal crackers sounds like just the right amount for an afternoon snack, but the prospect of 24 pancakes makes me want to wretch. 24 tootsie rolls would be heavenly, but 24 glasses of milk would have a very similar effect as the pancakes. Ugh... I can't even think about that much milk without feeling queasy...
24 years old. From my perspective, that seems like a new level of adulthood. It is the next level, in my opinion. It is adulthood. I am 21 and I have an adult job and an adult title and adult responsibilities, but I still feel like a young adult. I feel like this age is still too young to be really taken seriously. Fresh out of college, no world experience, no real appreciation for responsibility and duty... No matter how untrue these statements are, I can still feel the imagined whispers when I turn my back. 24 seems like the next plateau. Moving from "post-teen" years into true adulthood.
In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, that's all I have to say about that. Okay, that's not entirely true; I could say a lot more about that, but am quickly losing my grasp on articulation and think that it is best to quit while I'm ahead (excuse the cliche). In closing, thank you, Ernie and Bert. I would not be the person I am today without you.