Of Numbers, Death, and Nonsense
Despite (or because of?) my very clear interest in languages and the more liberal arts, my brain constantly thinks in terms of numbers. I’m obsessed with assessing my own productivity. Today is December 19, which means that 62% of the month has passed, and considering I have a deadline in mid-January, I have to increase the amount of time I work by 50 to 65% for the rest of the month in order to make it in time, considering other commitments and my recent fatigue which increases my average sleep by one hour per night, and the weather which increases the dog-walking time and preparation by 33% every day, and adding in some extra time for eventual unpredictable variables.
And then I realize, today my dad would have turned 50. And in mid-January, I’m turning 28. The same gap between today and my deadline. Then all these numbers lose their purpose in face of my emotions. At the same time, these numbers have always ruled my life. It’s like a constant fight between the bigger picture and the precise details, the macro versus the micro, in which the micro wins out of sheer quantity, becoming the macro. And then, the unquantifiable, innumerable elements, the beyond numbers, get shoved under the rug until I start tripping on the bumps. Like today.
Man, my dad would have turned 50. It’s a number beyond numbers. It doesn’t make sense, it creates sense. It’s a quantity which empties yet defines my life. It’s an addition of years of absence, it’s a subtraction of what should have been in favor of what was, it’s an unknown variable that became known too early in the equation and displaying ERROR on my calculator. It does not make sense.
Or can sense ever be made? In French, we say to have sense, or to be sensical (which isn’t even an official word in English). So, is sense contained, had, rather than made? Do things, events possess sense? No. Neither language is correct.
Sense is the unknown variable of the equation. We are the ones who try to create or see sense in that which is inherently void of sense. We impose sense onto variables through an emotional equation whose result is entirely subjective. We add up or subtract or multiply or divide numbers in our lives that we put together ourselves to try and give sense to them as a result. I suppose it’s easier to accept nonsense when we make it make sense, or make it have sense.
Happy 50th birthday to my big nonsense, my unknown variable.