I have long been obsessed with the number nine. My fascination with the number has nothing to do with numerology nor any other Medieval form of divination. It’s a curiosity that goes back to my preschool days when my father taught me how to count numbers. Perhaps I thought nine was special because it is the greatest single digit. I’m probably only projecting my current beliefs onto my toddlerhood.
I do remember sorting objects like stones and wooden building blocks into nines by placing them into groups of three sets of three and repeating the sorting until I ran out of objects. When I’m bored, I sometimes catch myself sorting coins in the same manner. It’s just a silly, harmless, mindless habit. I don’t think it has mystical meaning.
Orange the cat visited me again today. I asked him, “How many of your nine lives do you still have?” I don’t think Orange is willing to give up his secret. He pushed his head onto my arm and simply purred.
The old myth that many societies have regarding cats having nine lives goes back to olden times. There’s an ancient English proverb about cats that proclaims, “For three he plays; for three he strays; and for three he stays.” William Shakespeare alluded to the myth in “Romeo And Juliet”.“Tybalt: What wouldst thou have with me? Mercutio: Good king of cats, nothing but one of your nine lives.”
More recently, Mark Twain said, “One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.”
Then we have the tape loop from the EMI studio archives of an engineer’s voice testing equipment in “Revolution 9”. His voice repeats the phrase “number nine” throughout the experimental composition. The original snippet was the engineer saying, “This is EMI Test Series Number Nine.” John Lennon merely snipped the last two words from the audio clip and borrowed them. Regular readers of this blog already know about my obsession with “Number 9” from the “White Album”.
It’s interesting to note that The U.S. Supreme Court is comprised of nine Justices–one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices. Odd numbers in this and other deliberative bodies are common in order to avoid tied verdicts.
Then there is the popularity of the phrase “nine times out of ten” For instance: “Never go out to meet trouble. If you just sit still, nine cases out of ten, someone will intercept it before it reaches you.”–Calvin Coolidge Also: “Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only error to be exposed.”–H. L. Mencken
I have nine as a personal time boundary. I remind new acquaintances that I don’t like to answer phone calls before 9:00 in the morning or after 9:00 at night unless the call is an emergency. I do not place calls outside of those parameters as well. This seems like a fair policy.
I hope you have a great 9/9 today.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Edgar Allan Poe. “The ninety and nine are with dreams, content but the hope of the world made new, is the hundredth man who is grimly bent on making those dreams come true.”