Sunday, July 8, 2007

Numbers don't lie... do they?

Some people place undue (in my opinion) weight on the numbers in dates. From astrological signs to triskaidekaphobia (say that three times fast), it seems that America is a cultural hodgepodge of superstitious crap. Yesterday's "lucky sevens" date that happened to fall on a Saturday brought a surge of weddings, apparently (and as a hotline co-worker joked, perhaps an inevitable flurry of annulments on this Friday the 13th!). Some volunteers from the hotline were actually wed to each other yesterday (and I am very happy for them because they are sweet people), along with countless thousands who I don't have any personal knowledge about, and this was a REALLY BIG news story. Why?

I don't know.

Numerology, to me, has always been a harmless bit of entertainment and fun; something akin to taking personality quizzes online. I like checking my Aries horoscope some days (especially when I have a crush on some guy... it's a very seventh grade habit of mine) and when I was much younger and convinced that my friend's father was a werewolf (we did research in the library to prove it and everything) I thought certain numbers might be associated with evil and others with good. However, I never made life decisions based on this stuff. That's just silly. Like refusing to date someone because they aren't a cosmological match, especially when the descriptions are purposefully vague and could apply to a lot of different types. That and if my little brother demonstrates any of the Capricorn tendencies to ambitiously seek the finer things in life, you sure could have fooled me!

But many people seem to really get into this whole numbers-having-significance thing. My half-sister Janet can make some eerily accurate predictions based on her study of numerology and astrology. I remember the guy I was dating last summer was really hung up on 6/6/06--like that was the day he had set for himself to have his first kid and he was dreadfully disappointed it didn't happen. (He also had a rather bizarre obsession with The Omen I thought it was a joke, but considering that within three months of our break up about five months following my refusal to bear his illegitimate anti-Christ son Damien, he married a woman with two children already, perhaps there was more to it than that. Could our lives be as determined by the random numerals associated with significant dates, and I'm just not aware of this?

The problem is that, much like the misleading field of statistics that likes to encourage the old myth "numbers don't lie," a clever mind can make the numbers do pretty much whatever they want by looking at the same situation from different angles. I think the funniest scene from War and Peace is the one where Pierre writes and rewrites Napoleon's name with his various titles so that when you replaced the letters with numbers, it adds up to 666, and then turns around and is shocked by the coincidence and ascribes to it all sorts of divine import! It is so telling of that mindset (though usually someone doesn't actually mislead themselves in quite so obvious a manner... silly Tolstoy).

The human mind is an amazing thing. We construct significance and meaning from chance occurrence so often, it is hard to figure out what is a legitimate connection and what is one where we are just deluding ourselves. I often believe I am lucky and lead a fairly blessed existence (I have the "golden child" syndrome where everything seems to happen for me the way I want it to most of the time), but sometimes I wonder if it's just my eternally optimistic personality. I want to believe in divinity and love and significance and karma...

I just think that marrying on 7/7/07 isn't really the way to get it. Now maybe 11/11/11 on the other hand... Well, off to check my horoscope for today!

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