Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Living Life by Number

Last Friday night I took my kids to see the movie, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.  The main character was a nerdy high school senior.  In many ways I could relate.  In many ways I'd like to think I've outgrown most of my high school nerdiness.  But today I realized just how much my life is still "nerdy" in one clear way.  My life is lived "by number."

A friend posted that she plans to run 12 miles on Sunday.  Then she plans to run 100 miles in September.  I posted that I am planning to run 20 on Sunday with an exact starting and ending time.  The times imply 2 hours 40 minutes.  That implies an average of 8 minutes per mile.  I posted that I hope to pace another friend to a 3:45 marathon this fall.  (And perhaps we'll go a little faster or a little slower, but 3:45 is the general goal.)  My friend running the 100 miles posted in turn that she would only be able to keep my pace for one-tenth of a mile.  What I remind my friends who are runners is something another local runner used to say before her untimely death--it's about finish lines and not finish times.  I'd add that there are as many lessons in the numbers from those who run slow paces as there are in the numbers from those who run faster paces.

The marathon distance everyone knows: 26.2 miles.  The ultramarathon I plan to run next May is 90 km or 56.1 miles.  I know exactly how many weeks from this Saturday my next marathon is.  I heard the sound of cicadas in the trees dominating the otherwise quiet Lake Walker neighborhood when I took my dog for a walk after dinner.  I looked it up and found quite simply that cicadas can make sounds up to 120 dB and at 123 Hz.  I'm not even sure why I was fascinated enough to look that up, but I was.  I was engaging our next door neighbor in a discussion about Serena Williams tonight.  I commented on admiring her skill regardless of whether I am a big fan of tennis and whether my neighbor particularly likes Serena.  But I know that Serena is 33 years old, has 21 Grand Slam wins, is only one behind the previous record holder Graf, and has all four Grand Slam titles to her name for the second time. My neighbor commented that I knew a lot for someone who doesn't follow tennis.  And I don't, really, but I love the data.  The numbers.

For years (particularly since my first marathon), I have found a fascination in how I can use numbers in my life (running or otherwise) to guide my study of scripture.  And how my Augustinian spirituality approach--trying to find meaning today in everything I read in scripture--plays perfectly off that.

What I am realizing given the current fascination is that my fascination with numbers is not just from running and not always about scripture.  It is a fundamental part of me.  And the book that I've wanted to write, the story that I have inside me waiting to be told is about all the numbers.  And how my life is guided by--one might even say driven by--the numbers I see.  The numbers I here.  The numbers I experience.

So, whether the title ends up being something like Living by Number or The Experience of Numbers or The Spirituality of Numbers what the book will be about is my example of taking what I love--numbers--and using it to guide my connection to the spiritual.  To something bigger than me.  For the greater glory.  And then others can think about what they love.  And how they can use what they love to connect to something bigger than themselves.  Something bigger than their families.  Something epic.  Something that is transcending.

That is the key.

How many would read it?  I don't know.  I won't guess.

But I know the story that needs to be told.  And whether it gets told one minute a day or ten minutes a day or over a 40 or 50 hour period in some week some where some time, I don't know.

But I will tell it.

And even if only one copy is ever sold on the shelf of a store, I will consider it a win.

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