In middle school, when my friends and I would stay up having “deep” conversations until —gasp!—11pm, I remember one of the important questions we asked each other was, “What’s your favorite number?” As a twelve-year-old, our basis for answering that question is either 1) What is the least weird number we can say so our friends will still like us? or 2) How can we pick such a random number, like 1132.98, so people will think we’re cool?
I was obese and depressed and had too much going on in my head to create a strategy, so I chose the number 17. It just kind of came out of my mouth. It wasn’t a lie, though; I had just chosen that number for my AOL screen name. Inspired by an older, wiser peer’s screen name “greenboy11,” I decided that it was time for me to graduate from childish screennames with alternating lowercase letters and tildes and fully embrace my new self: “GuyInBlue17.”
The 17 did not go away. When my teachers in school demeaningly assigned each of us a number they could yell out to more easily collect our homework, my number was 17 more often than not. I remember how much I loved the shape of it, and combined with my synesthesia, I loved the colors: the #1 being a classy, icy white, and the #7 being a deep, forest green. Throughout high school the number continued to resonate with me, and knowing what I know now, that number was probably everywhere.
Plot twist: 17 is not my spiritual number. In a way that seems cute to me now, 17 was my “spiritual training wheels” number, giving me something to notice—teaching me that numbers could follow me and that numbers would matter in giving me affirmation on my human journey. My current, unquestionable spiritual number as an adult is 34; I understand the significance of that number as the mathematical double of 17. Here I am, a grown-ass man, numerically evolved from what I was as a child: this is part of the affirming nature of spiritual numbers.
Spiritual numbers are guideposts. I see 34 everywhere, multiple times a day: license plates, clocks, price tags, receipts, a stamp on my UPS box, phone numbers, or—my favorite—something as blatantly obvious as people speaking the number 34 to me in some seemingly unrelated context—and I smile and express gratitude at the extent to which my spirit guides are presenting that number to me in a way that makes sense to me and no one else. It’s our secret code with one another in which they can say, “We see you, gurl. We love you. And we want to remind you that this is all supposed to be happening.”
When I taught high school, I remember using the idea of spiritual numbers as leverage for my worst-behaved class. While they were apathetic to world literature in most cases, their ears perked when I could offer some on-brand, Mr. M., “weird-hippy-spiritual” fun fact that was so countercultural to them that they ate it up. This class composed almost entirely of 16-year-old-boys on the JV football team was not nearly as shocked as I suspected. At least four or five raised their hands and talked about how they see the same numbers all the time, but they thought it was just coincidence. Then I took a long bite of the Twix bar I had hidden underneath my desk, shot them a big Cheshire cat smile, and said, “Baby, ain’t nothin’ a coincidence.”
I see 34 (it’s tattooed on my body.) Charise sees 111. My sister-in-law sees 54 (her name is Olivia, and she recently realized, after years of noticing this number, that 54 written in roman numerals is “LIV”). While the number is different, the experience is the same: this number has become too prevalent to ignore. When I don’t see the number, I don’t necessarily believe it’s a sign that I’m on the wrong path; intuition helps us with that. For me, my numbers come in clutch when I needed them to. The morning after a breakup, driving into work, the only open spot in the first floor of my parking garage was bordered on the left and right with two license plates with 34. I smiled and cried a little bit and said out loud to my guides, “Thank you. I love you, you crazy motherfuckers.”
I bet you have a number, too. Keep your eyes peeled until you find yours and then cherish it. The universe breaks the bounds of physical and spiritual dimensions when it plants clues just for us. In this insane game of spiritual I-Spy, answers present themselves to you. Just by looking, sweet pea, you can win the prize.