The number 33 has haunted me all my life. Rather than just ignore it, as any sane person might, I have instead interpreted it as an omen that at the age of 33 I may spring off this mortal coil. This week I turned 33 and to avoid a year of paranoia I wanted to prove to myself that other numbers are just as prevalent.
Generally I’m not a superstitious person. Sure, I may have a momentary lapse of judgement if a black cat crosses my path or I’m forced to walk under a ladder, and I definitely try not to break mirrors (more to avoid cleaning it up than anything to do with bad luck) but then, who doesn’t? If luck is indeed real then I already experience enough on the bad end of the scale. And the few attempts I’ve made at trying to improve my luck (possibly involving casting a sneaky eye over a clump of clover looking for the elusive four pronged variety) have always proved fruitless.
But when something constantly demands your attention it becomes hard to ignore. It is unclear when I first began to notice the 33 phenomenon—perhaps in high school when I was placed in homeroom 33. For as long as I can remember it has had a recurring presence in phone numbers and addresses and other numbers of significance. I remember the great relief I felt when my parents moved into their current house eight years ago to find that the address and phone number were both 33-free. That was until I found out the house was built on ‘Lot 33’.
I decided to look into the number 33 to see what importance it holds and found some surprising results. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/33_number
- Apparently Jesus died at the age of 33 in 33 A.D. He performed 33 recorded miracles.
- 33 is not only a numerical representation of “the star of David”, but also the numerical equivalent of AMEN. 1+13+5+14=33. (I don’t plan on working out the numerical equivalent of the important words in my life for fear of edging ever closer to the brink of insanity.)
- According to Al-Ghazali, considered by many to be the greatest Muslim after the Prophet Muhammed, the dwellers of Heaven will exist eternally in a state of being aged 33.
- 33 is the coming-of-age of a Hobbit in The Lord of the Rings.
- There is a Smashing Pumpkins song called Thirty-Three which was released while they were my favourite band.
- In Dan Brown’s most recent novel, “The Lost Symbol”, the number 33 leads to the essential meaning of life. Mum told me about this after she read it and I found it a small blessing that I hadn’t discovered it myself.
For the record I am an atheist. I do not believe in God or fate or “things happening for a reason” although I am captivated by the nature of faith and am very fond of the Arabic word ‘Inshallah’, meaning ‘if God wills it’. But I can’t imagine why the strong symbolism of 33 in religion would hold any meaning for me.
To prove to myself that I am seeing reason where there is none, my resolution this week was to pick another number and make a concerted effort to chart how regularly it appears in my life with a view to alleviating my 33-related fears.
In choosing a number I had to set certain parameters. The number had to be under 60 but over 12 so I could include times, but only minutes, not hours. Dates would not count as they don’t go as high as 33. It was preferable that the number also had double digits as these tend to stand out more. In the end I settled on three numbers – 19, 22, and 32.
On the first day I tried very hard not to notice that the program I use to view Twitter was version 33.3 and that there were 333 photos of me on Facebook. It was reported on this day that 33 people had died during the protests in Bangkok.
Over the next few days the only numbers that caught my attention were those in the time which I generally only looked at when I noticed this blog open on my computer. While usually in the 30s, I only saw one 33 and 32. I also spotted one 22 but I couldn’t help but feel that the numbers were staying away on purpose.
On the Friday I was watching an episode of FlashForward when I was struck by a sentiment being expressed – that by knowing or anticipating the future, you are likely to make it happen—a self-fulfilling prophecy. This was shortly before they showed that there were 33 seconds left on the device that was about to kill one of the lead characters, just before they managed to shut it off.
On Saturday, my birthday, I was counting the number of discs in the Bewitched boxed set my mother had just bought. There were 33. Then I noticed the Australian / US exchange rate that lives on my desktop – US$1 was AU$0.833 and because it was a weekend it would stay that way for two days. As we were waiting to be seated at dinner that night I noticed the only table outside was number 33. Mind you we were seated at table number 22 which also happened to be the date.
I didn’t notice the number 19 once.
Not really a raging success.
So in order to comfort myself I’m trying to believe that perhaps the 33rd year of my life will bring great things. Maybe this will be ‘my year’ when all the crucial components for happiness will fall into place. Or most likely it means NOTHING WHATSOEVER. I simply have to remember that no one in history has ever been special enough to receive divine foresight into such matters and it’s not about to start with me! Particularly someone wacko enough to spend a week looking for numbers that prove the end of the world is not nigh.
This resolution is not without success as I’ve realised just how ridiculous this all sounds and I think it’s time to stop with the crazy now.