Measurements that matter?

I talk about data a bit here, but this is a bit different from what I normally write. I was opening the packet inside a box of cereal and wondered how many times I’d done that over my life. These thoughts started rattling around my head, so I’ve put them down here partly to get them out into a coherent form.

How to measure a human life?

The number of crisp packets you have opened
The number of trees you have walked beneath
The number of times you hammered your thumb instead of the nail
The number of times you have been floored by someone’s smile or a piece of art
The total volume of rubbish in landfill because of you
The number of times you felt that you belonged
The number of doors you have lived behind
The number of times you needed to say sorry
The number of times you needed to but didn’t
The number of times there was no time, just the moment
The number of hands you have held
The total energy expended by your diaphragm pushing laughter from your body
The number of times you couldn’t sleep because you were fretting about the morning
The topography of the skin around your eyes – a ledger of smiles and frowns
The scars you bear, inside and outside
The number of progress bars you have watched on a computer screen
The number of times you wished the ground would open up and swallow you
The number of times the valves in your heart have opened and shut, opened and shut
The number of times you stood up to someone in a position of power
The weight of books unread on your bookshelves
The volume of dew that has soaked into the bottom of your trousers
The volume of tears cried on your shoulder
The number of times you have looked before crossing the road
How far all the receipts you have received would stretch, if laid end to end
The number of people for whom you’ve been a pit prop or a ladder
The number of lists you have written
The number of times you have looked up at the stars, and felt still
The number of times you have helped someone to feel that they mattered

Tape measure
Simon A. Eugster, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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