05 April 2006

01:02:03 04/05/06

I'm a sucker for number games with dates and stuff. The Krebs Cycle has a lovely post on stuff the author finds fascinating--scientific discoveries, mainly--and ends with the note that the date today, if you write it in the American style with the month first, is 04/05/06. And he posted this at 1:02:03 (or there abouts).

These sorts of coincidences, where something as insignificant as our sequence of numbers aligns, as it must occasionally (even a broken clock is correct twice a day), with the time or the date. Does it signify? Well, yes and no. Because we're meaning-based beings, coincidences like these tend to feel significant, which is to say they twinkle with a magical charge, like synchronicity. There's just something downright spooky about it.

When I changed my major in college (long story), and the registrar office lady handed me my official document--basically my receipt--I glanced at it and got a shiver from the fact that the computer had printed it as 8/8/88. Didn't mean anything really, but I've never forgotten it. I think that time is an elusive dimension, so the way we talk about it is mediated by metaphors of space (things are in the past or future) or money (you waste or spend time), for example. Yes, time is an invention that measures something that doesn't exist. So when such an abstract thing gets punctuated by birthdays; holidays; turning 40; anniversaries of deaths, weddings, and breakups; or funny "jokes" of a consecutive sequence of numbers like today's date, it gives us a little thrill of meaningfulness, a sense of design or order, or even paradoxically, a disturbing out-of-jointness. But for a moment--for a moment--time stops. For a moment, it's as though time sees you.

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