Measurements

Five hundred twenty-five thousand

Six hundred minutes,

Five hundred twenty-five thousand

Moments so dear.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand

Six hundred minutes

How do you measure, measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights

In cups of coffee

In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.

In five hundred twenty-five thousand

Six hundred minutes

How do you measure

A year in the life?

How about love?

How about love?

How about love?

Measure in love

— Seasons of Love from RENT by Jonathan Larson

I’ve been thinking lately about measurements. Specifically when it comes to emotion and human interaction. Words mean things. How we use them to measure and gauge ourselves, each other, and our surroundings can be quite telling.

For instance, intimacy is always measured in distance. When we have an intimate relationship with someone we say we are "close" to them. When someone is withdrawn we say they are "distant". Of course, I’m very close to people who live thousands of miles away and there are many times I feel distant in a crowded room. Yet, such words take on powerfully descriptive new meanings in a different context.

I also wonder if we are measuring things by the proper metrics. Just as Jonathan Larson urges us to consider measuring a year with love, should we measure how good the day was by counting the number of times we smile ("A seventeen smile day!")? How about the bad by tears ("I’m having a fifty-three tear day")?

Then there are the things we can’t measure using any words that seem adequate. Like love for ones children, partner, or spouse. I know my measurements always fall short because just when I feel I can’t love my wife any more than I do I surprise myself. How can words of measure capture that?

There is no grand point to resolve here. These are just some of the ideas about this subject that have been occupying my mind lately and I felt it time to share them.

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