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Numb to numbers

OPINION by Harry Porter | October 10, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

What is it about numbers that allow them to have such a dramatic impact on our moods? Even more perplexing is that the same number can have a positive influence one time and a negative influence in another instance.

Take, for instance, the number 1. At the time of this writing, the Arkansas Razorbacks have just experienced their first loss of the football season to Georgia. This loss puts the Razorbacks' record at 4 wins and 1 loss. Just last week before the 1 appeared in their record Razorback fans were excited, hopeful and some were even giddy. After the appearance of the 1 folks are down, disappointed and dejected. All based on the number 1.

On the other hand when someone's team is ranked number 1 in the polls that number causes great happiness and joy. 1 did not change its characteristics or its design in any way. However, simply by making an appearance in a different venue, it gets a completely different response.

Another example of numbers causing a rise in different emotions would be when you see the number 100. If you see that the temperature outside is 100 you are unhappy but when you see the number 100 on a scratch-off lottery ticket you are ecstatic. The same number just in a different context.

I understand that the circumstances surrounding the appearance of the number have something to do with how we feel. However, does it really matter enough to plunge us into a pit or elevate us to new heights?

I can remember in school when I would get my test papers back. If they had a 100 on them, I was happy for a minute or two. If they had an 85, I was a little disappointed but quickly bounced back. If they had a 60 on them, I was unhappy for an extended period. All numbers, all different emotions.

Life tends to hand us numbers from time to time that we do not like. We have to realize that the numbers do not control our emotions. We do. Sure, we wish the bad circumstances were different but if we cannot change what happened we should not let it ruin our day.

Take for instance the results of the football game. With very few exceptions, I do not think anyone could tell me the results of week 9 of the Razorback's 1972 season. So sitting here today should that loss to Rice really have made us sad on that November day? No.

In life, we can control how much we let things control us. Our emotions do not have to be an unchecked bull running through our lives. Instead, emotions can be a kite that flutters here and there but is ultimately tied to our hands and we are in control of how long the breeze takes us.

I know perspective can be tough and emotions can be overwhelming at times. The thing to keep in mind when faced with strong negative emotions is that a number is really in control. The Roman numeral one can step in and save the day when emotions are running wild. What is the Roman numeral one? I.

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