endless, we count on
0 is the time and space between sleeping and waking. it is lying half-conscious on an air mattress in a place far away; it is foreign, to be sure, but not necessarily across the ocean from home; it is staring at red numbers blinking 3:46 until the image burns into your retinas and you dream of red stars and planets accreting and crumbling again faster than you can perceive.
1 is the singularity of life; that it must end. some argue that taxes are also a constant thread in the weft of humanity, but our ancestors scoff. we cannot remember a time before capitalism was our prevalent master. we walk the road towards our destination, ever so often faltering, but the path was meant for us to falter. did we really ever have a choice? the gods sigh, no.
2 is the choice between a duality. up or down. left or right. north or south. east or west. black or white. him or her. we ignore the grey areas of morality and decision making as we stride towards an answer with a contrast that justice can permit. we grasp it fully with two fists and proclaim that this is the way we should live. heaven and hell, why can't we just stay here?
3 is the wine of storytellers. three wishes, three beautiful girls, three bold tasks for the hero, three golden apples, three unforgettable nights, three incandescent gowns, three brothers, three companions as the hero completes his quest. how it curves, the tale they spin; a silver tongue cannot buy bread. now we sell our stories by the roadside of the ether; too many lost to time.
4 is a nuclear powerhouse. they smile in family photos, suits iron-pressed and dresses only worn once. but is it not worth it for the sake of the illusion? this abridgement of their lives shows nothing but joy; it does not show the bruises beneath the indigo sash around her waist; it does not show the dog buried in the backyard. it will never show their youngest son's collection of pressed flowers.
5 is the bitten and torn remnants of a sane vanity. you stare into the mirror with shadowed eyes and a mouth that parts as if it needs to tell you something you don't know. yet. you used to love your fingers. now, you lick the blood off your digits. they will grow back. just give it time. it was satisfying in the moment, but now all you feel is the pain and regret of breaking the seal of your self-applied embargo.
6 is poverty. plain and simple. it does not need big words to explain how little their children are, how little food they have, how little they have at all. more children, more, more, just for the hope that one survives in this world that does not want us. you always feed the children first, they need it more than you do, but when they die because it still was not enough, what will you do then?
7 is another mythkeeper's spell. seven swan brothers, seven dwarves to protect the princess, seven deadly sins, seven heavenly virtues, seven, oh holy seven, over and over again til the word loses meaning. you find a bible in your bedside drawer - you didn't put it there - but you don't read it. holy words seem to have lost their effect on you after a lifetime of depravity.
8 is what we call forever. it doesn't exist, of course, but we foolishly promise the word to ourselves. i'll hate you forever. i'll love you forever. forever and always. everything will end; scientists have proven it. yet we still cling to this idea of forever and selfishly claw to keep its mystical powers for ourselves. no one has forever. not even the sun. and when we all die - because of ourselves, not divine intervention - it seems the sun won't take so long to swallow us whole.
9 is the uncertainty of the future. what comes now that we've left that which we know. the crags of our expectations look far too high to climb. but we must, lest we be impaled when gravity shifts against us. look up, they tell us. aim high. there's something beautiful waiting up there, just for you. they tell it to the next person, and the next. we were all too busy climbing to find that which was truly beautiful. you look up to the sky as you fall.