“Why does my brain insist on counting the steps every time I walk up a flight of stairs? I just can’t help myself. There’s something about my mind that always wants to keep counting.” – Rachel Nichols
I’ve always counted things, especially when I’m bored or anxious. Steps in a flight of stairs, breaths taken while running, books on a bookshelf, bills in my wallet, and even ceiling tiles when at the gynecologist’s office or while in the dentist’s chair. It is a simple, repetitive way to calm myself.
Numbers are one way we attempt to create order in this world. Seconds, minutes, hours, days… all are measured in numbers. By understanding numbers, it can falsely feel like we gain a sense of control over time. Over our lives and the situations we are in.
But we can’t control these things. While we may know there are 60 seconds in one minute, this only helps us understand time durations, but not control them. We can’t get more time or know how much time we have left in this life.
As a gal who loves to pretend she’s always in control, this is a tough truth. No matter how many things I count or how much I understand about the concept of time, I gain no more control or ability to manipulate it. I’m still bound by the same time rules. I’ll still find my time is up some day, and I won’t have a chance to add more coins to continue playing. It will be game over.
Why do we insist on trying to feign control over time? Because the alternative is scary. Then we would have to recognize we have a set amount of time in this life to live, laugh, love, and make a difference. It never feels like enough time. And we waste some of it, counting ceiling tiles.
So today, on the eve of my son’s birthday, I’m going to do my best to actively engage. To be present. Because I need to make a difference in my life and counting the books on the shelf won’t do it. Let’s get real and get down to the dirty work of living in the short time we have. I insist.