IT'S EXTRAORDINARY how many numbers we carry around in our heads—countless telephone and fax numbers, account numbers, street numbers, ID numbers, ZIP codes, area codes, and so on and so forth.
Numbers are lifeless and boring abstractions, yet for each of us there are some that are so charged that, if we happen to be paying attention, they can make our hearts skip a beat. The year somebody we loved was born or died. A telephone number we may not have called for twenty years. The number of steps there were to climb to our bedroom as a child. The age we were when we first fell in love. Uninteresting as they are in themselves, numbers remind us that, if we have our wits about us, almost anything we look at has treasure buried in it.