My Obsession With Numbers

16 May

After eight years, tens of thousands of miles, hours upon hours of use and abuse in all kinds of weather, my CicloMaster died. It had tracked my miles, my speed, my time, and other statistics as I pedaled my bicycle around the state of Oregon.

It also fed my obsession with numbers. It was a steady fix, an injection of facts and figures shot directly into my brain. They measured more than how far I’d ridden my bike or how fast. In some sad, sick way, they measured who I am.

With society as my primary pusher, I’ve been addicted to numbers since childhood. Without them, I would not exist. Growing up, what would I have been without my grade point average? How could I have progressed lacking SAT or GRE scores? In sports I kept a close eye on my batting average in baseball and how much I could bench press in the weight room. Later, as I built a career, the best way to evaluate success was my salary’s number.

Happiness, satisfaction, meaning, or purpose seldom played a part in calculating my advance through life. How could they? What does happiness weigh? How fast is satisfaction? What’s the point total for meaning? Does purpose have an average score? Society never patted me on the head because I felt joy in my heart. But it sure gave me hearty backslaps for achieving some good numbers.

I wish I could say that the death of my CicloMaster has liberated me. Far from it. I immediately replaced it with a Garmin Edge 205, which spits out even more numbers about each ride I take and delivers more data about my overall biking history. It satisfied my numbers jones nicely.

Despite knowing the ephemeral, even meaningless nature of the numbers that summarize my life, I can’t help myself. I’m addicted. Without them I would not know who I am. Perhaps, as I said, I would even cease to exist.


4 Responses to “My Obsession With Numbers”

  1. gevin shaw May 16, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    Where is your dedication? How can you know who you are if your heart isn’t in it, literally? Looks like the 305 would do the trick.

    And what counts as going the distance. It is a measure of our minds that we have to put our foot on that curb or our hand on that lamppost for the distance to feel complete. We’ll go half way down the block and back to make the last 30 seconds of our 40 minutes, or our 2 hours. Oh joyful holiday when, every once in a while, we cut through the parking lot instead of going to the corner, or stand and watch those last seconds pass and still put it in the book.

    • meh2meh May 16, 2010 at 10:28 am #

      Alas, the number in my bank account decided for the 205. The 305’s extra data will have to wait for an extra windfall.

      Besides, I’d hate to be seeing a heart attack approaching on the display. Let it surprise me.


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