My Relationship with Numbers and Digits

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

I have an obsession with numbers. Over time the specific digits and their constituents have changed. As well, this obsession is often—like a lot of what I think—seemingly contradictory. Use term “seemingly” because I can easily explain contradictions that occur because of the wiring in by brain. An example, I have both a hatred and love of leading zeros in numbers (“04” or “004” rather than “4.”)

This is an exercise in explaining the Pure Obsessive OCD end of my disorder. This is s sub-set of OCD, it’s called colloquially “Pure O.” I do not have that in total, I have parts of it. In fact it is debatable if it is an entire diagnosis—essentially having only the obsessive part of OCD, and not the compulsive. That is not at all a knock on anyone’s type of OCD—just something that I need to mention in my own sidebar here… people with Pure O often do have compulsions, they just manifest themselves deep in the psyche or area where thoughts are born. ANYWAY, I can go into

I also have to mention that I have a very slight bit of synesthesia with numbers. Synesthesia is when senses are crossed in your brain, and you relate—for example—sensing taste while hearing words1. I have a fairly common synesthesia—and on a scale of one to ten, I would give it a 4—relating numerals to colors. 1 is blue, 2 is red, 3 I don’t know, 4 is yellow, 5 is yellow… I see these things, but it is extremely foggy. Those who’d rank their synesthesia at a more intense rate see the whole universe of numerals in points on the entire visual spectrum of color.

So this was supposed to be a short article, and well, my verbosity has gotten the best out of me2. So me. And numbers:

When I was young and into my early teenage years I was obsessed with the word seven. In almost every other sentence I said to myself in my head, that word was part of it. Even if it didn’t have anything to do with the content of what I was thinking. And if I did not get enough of the word in, I’d trail off my thoughts with “seven, seven, seven, seven.”

It interests even me to note, the math of the word—the actual digit meant nothing to me. I did not need things in sevens. Seven of something was no more pleasing than three or four of something.

From my mid-teenage years until today I developed an obsession with a set of three numbers. Well two sets, but they’re almost the same. It goes like this.

110 (or 1110): Evil numbers, when seen they remind me that I’ve missed the target. Bad.

111 (or 1111): A perfect number, the perfect number. All is right with the world3.

112 (or 1112): A sign that I’ve overshot whatever 111/1111 mean. Not terrible, not good.

The number 1 on its own is so very important, as is the number 0. These are two of the most important numbers in the history of intelligence4. I’ve read books on the concept of zero, and I’d recommend them. The number one, I’ve never seen a book on—but I think of it with such reverence—it is the base of knowledge, love, emotion, and creativity. The base—it does not form a whole in these ares.

That is where the number 3 comes in. Creatively, and I later learned there are theories to using the number 3 in visual composition that I’d been using forever: the rule of thirds.

Don’t think we’re going in any sort of order here and that we’ll be here all day! We’re not merely “up to three,” as I am moving somewhat randomly based on importance.

The number 97 I like a lot, because I felt the need to. I grew to like this number as it is the largest two-digit prime number. I have an obsession with sports uniforms, which often contain two digits. I felt, as this obsession became something I was more involved in—through like-minded peoples blogs and sites—that 97 is the perfect number for a sports uniform.

5 is overrated. It’s one half of the base ten system we use in real life (10, 100, 1000…) It is a very nice number, I’ll just say that. I was born on the 25th day of the month in a year ending with 5. Eh.

2 is nice, 2 connotes communication to me. As I generally can only communicate with one other person at a time (except when selling, but that’s a universe of bullshitting, so…) Communication. There is one other person and me, and that is how I feel comfortable. Myself, another… 2.

Now… I’d mentioned that I didn’t take the number 7 into much consideration when it was more of an obsession5 in my younger years. Later I got to thinking (on my own or my brain just started thinking it, I do not know)—7 is where most good things land on a scale of 1 to 10. 7 is calm, realistic, and good. 1 is horrid, 10 is ecstatic and unattainable. 7 is pretty close to perfect.

Now that which I despise: A numeric expression with leading zero when mixed with a numeric expression with a non-leading zero. For example if “06” and “6” are in the same place. This comes about in car racing a lot. There can be a car number “07” and a separate car number “7.” It is a horrid, disorganized mess.

However! (This is where the seemingly contradictory starts in, but it is not. Certain circumstances bring wildly different likes and dislikes to the forefront of my brain.)

Leading zeros, when used alone, for organizational purposes are heavenly and I think everyone should use them. If you have an inkling that you’re going to have more than ten of something, use a couple of leading zeros! This set, allowing you numbers from 1 to 100, makes me very pleased:

001, 002, 003 … 098, 099, 100

That’s probably not it. I am sure there is more. But hitting “Recount” on my program’s word count brings me to…. Well. That “to” right there was word 1,098. I need five more words. Let’s go for 1,111. Stop.


1 Lexical-gustatory synesthesia, if you must know. [BACK]

2 I did tell you I work without an editor. [BACK]

3 For now. [BACK]

4 “History of intelligence” sure seems hyperbolic. I’m leaving it. [BACK]

5 Yes, one who has OCD has their obsessions change. Not all of them, but it is common. [BACK]