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Feel Like a Number

How do you measure faith, love and joy?

The old Bob Seger song is running through my head this morning, and I have always had a fondness for that Michigan-bred musician. I actually remember his band, The Bob Seger Sound System, playing sock hops at my sister’s high school in suburban Detroit, the skinny mop-haired kid with the big voice belting out genuine Motor City rock-n-roll.

Why that song? Because sometimes it seems that modern life is all about the numbers. I flip on the TV news in the morning and I am bombarded by numerical data: temperature patterns, humidity levels and what the heat actually feels like in the weather report; more numbers on the economy and their impact on political poll numbers; Derek Jeter breaking the 3,000 hit mark with a five-for-five performance (though he’s only hitting for a .263 season average).  

In my cycling class at the gym my eyes are glued to my bike monitor: RPMs, energy output, speed, distance traveled…on a stationary bike, no less. Then at work I go over budget numbers, circulation figures and employee evaluations. A colleague stops by to bemoan the fact that she is turning 50 this week. Even the Bible has a whole book dedicated to numbers. Everything gets a number!

So I ask myself, can life really be that numerical? Are people’s lives that quantifiable? How do you measure faith and love and joy? Passion and patriotism? How do I put a number to the way I feel about my family, my friends, my work? Right, I can certainly count my blessings but can I really quantify the depth of my gratitude?

Yes, I remind myself, the most beautiful things in life can’t be defined by a number. That’s what makes them so perfect. It can be hard to remember that as we wade through the figures that are so often used to describe life.

Are there days when you feel more like a number than a person? I’d love to know.

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