As I lay in bed ill, it’s been amazing the phrases that have washed through me. There is a phase ‘Beyond Measure’ that I have heard or read of, over the years. ‘The beauty I see before me is beyond measure’, ‘He loved her beyond measure’, ‘The richness of the life I live here is beyond measure’.
There is something I love about the phrase ‘Beyond Measure’. For me it means there are aspects to life that are immeasurable. Aspects so great, so colourful, so numinous, so enchanting that they take us beyond measurement.
For some reason we have allowed measurement to be king. We have also thrown accolades at the measurers, be they statisticians, scientists, accountants, actuaries or economists. I am not against measurement (I’ve a degree in economics and trained as an accountant!) and I see it has its place, but when it is favoured over the enchanted world in which we live, then for me there is a problem.
As I reflected on measurement, I remembered some great phrases highlighting the important role measurement has taken in our culture. ‘If you can’t measure it, you cannot manage it’, or the one that really gets me, ‘If it cannot be measured, it doesn’t exist’. Quite amazing how these turns of phrase inform how we think about the world, and therefore how we experience it.
For me measurement greys over our world and we lose its full spectrum colour in favour of graphs, figures and spreadsheets. Measurement makes our world a 2D world of flat figures. The beauty and enchantment of the world is what lifts us in times of suffering. Historically it is this enchantment with the beauty of the world that provided us with so much of our art, poetry and music.
It saddens me when scientists have to measure all the plants, birds and insects in a rainforest in Indonesia to show that it is worth keeping or preserving. That in its measurement they find new plants or creatures that have not been discovered (measured) previously and therefore the rainforest is worth keeping. Can the rainforest not be worth keeping for its ‘Beyond Measure’ beauty and enchantment? Worth keeping for things that we don’t understand or might never quite understand, nor do we need to. Nature’s numinous mysterious qualities take us to higher levels of joy within ourselves and that for me is really important in the world in which we live.
We have given too much authority to measure, I don’t want to live in a world greyed over by numbers and pie charts, I want to live in a world Beyond Measure, where we hold dear the mysterious, numinous, enchantment of our magical beautiful and loving world.