Recently I’ve been making an effort to exercise more. I set a goal of averaging 10,000 steps a day, and I track my steps with my phone. According to a random article on the internet, the 10,000 steps per day goal comes from a marketing campaign to sell pedometers in Japan. So, there’s no magic number of steps that will make anybody fit and healthy. But something about that number is alluring anyway.
I started thinking about the number ten thousand and how it surfaces in various contexts:
- Ten thousand hours to acquire and master a skill (according to Macolm Gladwell) (which apparently gave rise to a Macklemore and Lewis song)
- The band 10000 Maniacs (bonus: More Than This)
- Fancy jewelry from TENTHOUSANDTHINGS
- A quality of the Tao: “The name, once introduced, becomes the Mother of the Ten Thousand Things.” (from the Tao Te Ching)
- Fair trade goods from Ten Thousand Villages
- A (made up?) statistic from xkcd
Since I’m writing about writing, here are some books where ten thousand is right there in the title:
- The Ten Thousand Things, a novel by Maria Dermout
- Among the Ten Thousand Things, a novel by Julia Pierpont
- The World of the Ten Thousand Things: Poems 1980-1990 by Charles Wright
I can only claim to have read the third one, which I recommend if you like free verse and aren’t too bothered by a leap or two into the unexpected. Just roll with it– you’ll end up somewhere interesting and beautiful.
Are there really ten thousand reasons to keep writing? If I thought long enough I could probably come up with a hundred. But then there are reasons from every other writer. Ten thousand is probably just the minimum.