I usually divide commercials into two classes: those I’ll tolerate, which means I don’t change the station or channel; and those I can’t stand. Change the channel. Every once in a while, though, one makes me think. On the way to the park this week, I heard one of the latter. I’ll try to paraphrase. You may think that the most important number in your life is your age or your IQ but it’s not. The most important number in your life is your credit score. You might guess that the commercial was for a credit report company because, after all, ads are meant to convince us to buy something, not inform. Advertisements will tell you that owning such-and-such a car is tantamount to Nirvana, that losing weight will make you an entirely new person (it won’t … you’ll be the same old whatever-you-were in a smaller body) and that a foul tasting concoction of chemicals in a can will give you wings. But it is an interesting question … what is the most important number in my life? Or, given my inability to narrow any list down to a single favorite, what are the important numbers in my life?
I’ll say this. My credit score is very far down the list. It is indeed nice to have a good credit score when I’m negotiating for a good interest rate on a loan but that happens (at least for me) only a few times in a lifetime, which makes it hard for me to see it as anywhere near my most important number. Besides, my credit score is mostly a product of my financial success with, of course, some common sense thrown in. Maybe my income, past and present, or the amount of money I have in the bank should be close to the top of my list. I am comfortable but not rich … suffice it to say that I’m not a two-comma guy, either in terms income or savings. While there is no doubt the life style my wife, Muri, and I enjoy is on any gratitude list, it just seems … well … so damned materialistic to say that my income is my favorite number. I suppose I could be convinced my age, 71, is my most important number since, once I no longer have an age, well, I’ll no longer be around. It will be, Older Eyes would have been 97 years old today, instead of Older Eyes is 97. Still, it seems like age is something that just happens to me, although I certainly have influenced my length of life.
Here are some numbers that I know are important. I was raised by 2 parents living in the same house. 1 parent stayed home and took care of us and the other 1 worked 2 jobs to give us a better life than he had. That is a gift that too few children receive these days. My parents taught me the value of education, so I have 3 degrees in engineering and have spent 28 in school at least part time (30 if you count a certificate in creative writing). Education has opened doors for me that I couldn’t have imagined and given me a career that I enjoyed the vast majority of the time, as well as an avocation writing. I have had 3 mentors who taught me more of value that all my teachers combined: 2 were colleagues and 1 was my sponsor in a 12 Step program that I’ve been working for 23 years. I will have been married for 47 years this August 11 and what is more important, it has been to 1 woman (who, by the way, has a better credit score than I do). I have raised 2 children to adulthood or at least a new millennium approximation of it, a journey that taught me a great deal. I have 3 grandchildren that are the lights of my life.
If I add up all the number that seem important to me, the total is twenty years north of my age, a few decades short of my IQ and significantly south of my credit score, which goes to show you. When it comes to important numbers, it isn’t size that matters, it’s how close they are to your heart.