As human beings, it’s in our nature to measure, because that’s how we understand the things around us. We put numbers on everything: time, quality, standards of living. Everything to us is about the bigger the better, the more the merrier. Or sometimes, it’s about second to none, and less is more.
It’s become so easy for us to take these superficial quantities as benchmarks for measuring our own lives, to gauge where exactly we fall on every spectrum. How successful, smart, rich, happy, loved, respected, accomplished, talented we are.
I wonder what silly things we would come up with if we were to measure the extent to which we are a part of the world we’re in. The extent to which we are alive.
For the rationalist, the number of breaths taken. The number of heartbeats per minute. How many wrinkles on the surface of the skin. How many years lived.
For the student, the percentage on a test. The ratio of As to Fs. How many books still unread. The word count on the bottom of the page.
For the athlete, the number of medals. The time on a stopwatch. How many wraps around a sprained ankle. How many laps in a pool.
For the artist, the number of views. The value in a frame. How many spins on a pirouette. How many octaves reached.
For the socialite, the number of parties attended. The digits on a phone. How many likes on a status. How many names tagged in a photo.
For the materialist, the size of a pay check. The price hanging off a wrist. How many inches on a television screen. How many rooms in a house.
For the addict, the number of packs smoked. The number of pills swallowed. How many cups of caffeine. How many withdrawal symptoms.
For the indulger, the number of seasons watched. The count of calories on a plate. How many days spent sleeping in. How may nights spent wide awake.
For the narcissist, the number of inches on a waistline. The number of suitors in waiting. How well known a name. How desired a face.
For the traveler, the number of borders crossed. The mileage on a car. How many countries explored. How many still left on the bucket list.
For the daredevil, the amount of adrenaline in the bloodstream. The number of locks broken. How many scrapes on a knee. How many heartbeats skipped.
For the lover, the number of kisses in a day. The years on a relationship. How many hearts broken. How many hearts put back together.
For the fighter, the number of tears shed. The number of words that can’t be taken back. How many times knocked to the ground. How many times gotten back up.
Perhaps, we were none of these. Or perhaps, we were all.
As human beings, it’s in our nature to measure, because that’s how we understand the things around us. But if I were to measure the extent to which I was alive, I’d want it to look like nothing.
I’d want to realise that the most meaningful things can’t possibly be measured, and so I wouldn’t be building a mountainous pile of frivolous somethings. To realise that the things truly worth living for can’t be quantified, because quantity is limited and if we put a number on living, then life runs out.
And perhaps, I’d want the best parts of life to be infinite.