Are You A Measurer?


I'm one of those limited people who craves delimitation -- round and round the same course, back and forth on the same route, up and down the pool lane. Boring? Not for us measurers. I often wish I could "be Zen" about my moments in time, but I generally fail in this human endeavor. I love to know how far I have to go, how much I have accomplished up to this point.

When things aren't seeming fun, when I'm not catching the zone wave, I can walk myself through the slowly passing time, encouraging myself (lying to myself), if I know how much more of whatever it is I have yet to endure. Take, for instance, the horrible, claustrophobic white void of the MRI machine. I tell the technician: just check in with me every minute, on the minute, and I'll be okay. Pool laps? I can parse the number 50 (I swim 2500 yards) any number of ways. I know how I will feel on lap 15, and I know how I will wheedle and whine to stop early on lap 47.

And all you serial dieters out there, you know what I'm talking about. Measurement equals control, or at least a serviceable illusion thereof. So when we can't give ourselves over to meditation, to stepping outside the need to control things, we can measure.

Writers? You know who you are. When that shitty draft is staring back at you from your desktop, you just count the pages. Get something, anything, done. Edit another day.

Measurement holds only the importance we deign to give it; but when I am cranking up a 10 percent grade on my road bike, I really like to know the answer to that question: "Are we there yet?" Even if there is no there there. Actually, THAT's why I like to measure: it makes a THERE out of NOWHERE.

(photo by Reid Yalom)


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