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Can I Just Slow Down This Quantitative Life?


Do numbers define your life? This is the question posed by Tiny Buddha contributor Katie Jensen. A great post. It definitely got me thinking.

My job is very data driven. As a teacher, I am highly encouraged (translation: required) to track my students’ goals and objectives regularly. In fact, if it is not “measurable and observable,” I am advised (okay, told) not to make it an educational goal for my students. This makes sense for work, but what about the rest of my life?

I’ve never thought of myself as a numbers person. Many math teachers from Los Osos and Morro Bay California can attest to this fact. I chose seemingly less quantitative courses of studies like journalism, English and special education (jokes on me, math is everywhere). But in reality, most of the time, I let my brain rule and assign value to my life based on numbers. How much do I weigh? How much did I weigh 20 years ago? How old am I? What size do I wear? What size should I wear?  How much is my house worth? How much will it be worth ten years from now? When I evaluate my life, quantities pop up:  number of relationships, number of workouts, miles covered or not covered, words written, grams of sugar consumed per day, years at my current job, the balance in my checking and savings accounts, credit card debt, interest rates, etc., etc., etc.

Would my life be better without these constant numerical assessments? Could I let the numbers go, and concentrate on people, places, things, ideas, love, all the things that make for a full, wide life? Perhaps I need  a list.  I do love lists. Maybe I won’t care about the number of items on the list;  I’ll  only care about the contents.

Like, for example, here is my summer list of places:

Gerle Creek/Loon Lake. Homage. Sparks Coffee Shop. Scheels. Galaxay Theater. Century Theater. Carson Valley Pool. Great Basin. Rounds. Lighthouse Coffee. Anytime Fitness. Washoe County Library. Walmart. Squeeze Inn. Jacks. Hometown Café. The Western Village. Hub. Coffeebar. The Truckee River. California Burger. Big Pines Mountain House. IV Coffee Lab. Chuck E. Cheese. A & W. Scoopers. Home Depot. Base Camp Pizza. Sun Valley Pool.  Pah Rah Park.

Or, my list of things: Books, coffee, s’more’s, lemon Oreos, watermelon, black bears, guns, movies, swimming pools, video games, camp stove and propane, flashlights, creeks and lakes, letters to friends, journals, weeds and fresh paint, dogs and leashes, Netflix, water slides, and  cold Cokes with frozen Jack.

I want to think more qualitatively and less quantitatively, while still making my lists (I do really love lists, did I mention?) Maybe I could look on my life- past, present and future- with understanding and even awe, rather than judgement. When I read biographies or Wikipedia entries about peoples’ lives, I don’t judge the numbers of marriages or kids or jobs they’ve had. I definitely don’t care how much my favorite authors weigh or how many calories per day my favorite actors consume. So why am I kinder to the strangers, living and dead, than I am to my own self? Why do I let numbers define me?

I am working on choosing different systems of personal evaluations. Even with running, I am focusing less on distance and time, and more on avoiding zombies (Zombies, Run) and making it fun. I am only competing with myself, not my Facebook friends and not my younger, super fit, and frankly very neurotic self. I mean seriously, I don’t want to go back to that time, when I was in my twenties and  had nice leg muscles and worried so much about what everyone else thought about me. So how about I let it go? Okay, good talk.

Currently reading:  For the 2016 Book Challenge: “read a book published before you were born”:  Jonathon Livingston Seagull.  And because that was so short, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I guess I’m going old school self-help or something. Also trying to finish What is the What and Urban Monk before I start any new stuff.

I gave up on My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. One hundred pages in, and I was still bored. I think next I will try A Man Called Ove, also by Fredrik Backman.

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