Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Elegance of Numbers

All my life I have been a word man. For as long as I can remember I have taken great pleasure in reading and writing. Whether or not anyone else cares, words through stories, essays, poetry, and scripts have captured my imagination whether they were the creation of my imagination or that of others. Words constructed the images that shaped my life.

Over the course of my life, I have written far more words than have ever been seen by anyone. That’s fine. I write much more for me than for anyone. Honestly, all three blogs I maintain are about me.

It is what it is.

In the last few weeks, though, numbers keep striking me with an elegance that I have never noticed.

Maybe it comes from the primary focus of my job being data collection and distribution. I have spent more time playing with Excel in the last six months than I have in the previous 45 years. (Yes, I know Excel has not been around 45 years, but spreadsheets have been.)

The numbers that have struck me though have had nothing to do with my job.

The roundness of the “6’s” when my odometer reached the 58666 mile point was only surpassed by the 58888 mile point.

And there was the anticipation between 59999 and 60000. I noted both mile points but missed the transition as I was in bumper-to-bumper traffic and preferred to avoid a collision rather than monitor the odometer.

Perhaps it is thanks to digitization of numbers rather than simple analog and handwritten numerals that create the esthetic nature. I never noticed mile markers, time, or patterns when numbers were written by hand or ticked over on plastic rolls.

Perhaps it is that I spend hours each day looking at numerals. Each one represents a student or group of students. The numbers are personal instead of a value. These are numbers that matter.

Whatever has happened, the simple elegance of numbers has overwhelmed me in recent months. The beauty of the patterns, the lines, the curves, have all captured my imagination. They encapsulate a beauty of which I was never aware.

Every time I see a group of numbers, I am struck by a beauty in them I have never noticed before. My brain has changed.

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