Tuesday, March 3, 2015


I want to find an answer, but I don't know how. That's all.

That thought comes to me often amid what sometimes seems less the chaos than the carnage of my life all around me. The last few years have brought extreme change--the tearing down and the building up of structures of various levels of metaphysicality. Not a word, but it should be.

Ninth in the world, first in the U.S. There are eight others and I know nothing about them except one liners: a consanguineous family in Brazil, a person of indeterminate age in Germany who has, also, a heterozygous recessive case, but no de novo defect. So like Robert, but not quite.

I have always been afraid of the number nine. Not because Sesame Street gave me nightmares, but because at some point toward the end of high school, I picked up a book in the town library on numerology. I can't recall the title, although the book's cover always appears in my memory as black.

I stood with my shoulder against the bookshelf, those grey metal industrial shelves, leafing through it. One chapter promised it held the key to fates through a process of adding together the numerical value of names and birthdates. My numerical fate added to nine, which, the book informed me, was the worst possible number: it meant I would always come very close to achieving something, but never make it. My life would be a pattern of incompleteness, of almost always being there, yet never quite.

So I shut the cover.

Was I cursed?

If I had never opened the cover, never read the chapter, would the numerical value of my basic identity have held a silent secret metaphysical presence throughout my days?

One of my mother's favorite phrases is "self-fulfilling prophesy." That, and "famous last words." My mother thinks one can think too much, and has had a concern that I go over things too much. This is completely understandable. So we make a fine counterpoint to one another, like notes in harmony or occasional discord.

But there are times I wonder if I "go over" whatever it is enough times, maybe it will disappear. But this business about the number nine--bane of all digital representation, ridiculous drooping balloon on a stick--the whole thing stays with me and I cannot shake it.

I do believe if you over-think things, you may be able to re-invent them. Nine might be the penultimate, the number before the next deca-whatever starts. It may well be a sense of making it almost to the pinnacle but having to cede that to ten. But it's also a point of waiting, a point of attention, attendance, expectation. The moment before the page flips to, perhaps, an answer. The antechamber of possibility.

We waited for 14 years, 1 + 4 = 5, the number of perfect harmony of man and woman, to find our answer, which was a 9. Adding 9 + 14 yields 23, which digits add to 5. So we start again where we began: I want to find an answer, but I don't know how.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

"You always have your head in the clouds," was what my mother told me often, as a child. She also said, "Book learning isn't everything. You have to have street smarts." Whatever. Your description of reading that book on numerology reminded me of my own visit to a library where I stood, much as you did, and read through a book about ESP and "the life beyond." There is something very comforting in those memories despite what they may have presaged -- something simple, where you can figure stuff out, even when your head is as puffy as a cloud.