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(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

(c) 2014 Trina Lambert

Do you ever think that if you could just sit down to create and put together a really detailed spreadsheet, then life would be OK? I mean when worries wash over you, do you ever start heading for Excel? All will have to be OK with the world if you can just plug some information and formulas into some slots, hit return, and, voilà, the facts and answers will appear and all will be well? Or maybe this is just me?

Sometimes I like to work with numbers that just are, numbers that are black and unchanging, and, seemingly, nothing more. Find the number, drop it into the cell, and move on. The repetition calms me, lulling me into believing that those boxes can control and keep the data—as well as contain any possible associated messy meanings. A simple click on AutoFit column width and nothing can spill out or hide.

This, my friends, is why I am more than a creative. Somewhere deep inside in me I find comfort in putting things into boxes—except that with my ability to see shades of gray, things often escape from those boxes, despite my best efforts.

Though I am not enough of a nerd to assign emotions to particular numbers (trust me—my son can personify numbers in a manner far beyond my comprehension), deep down I realize that numbers can bring out emotions. If those supposedly black numbers take a turn into the red, my rational mind can become quite overwhelmed, especially when those numbers are personal to me. And sometimes, I know or discover that those numbers are not even as certain as I might like to believe.

Still, on a good day, I can give into the Zen of the spreadsheet and forget what significance lies in the big picture of totals, projections, associations, or anything beyond the next cell. In those times I am simply creating order out of chaos, recording history, and sticking with just the facts, ma’am.

so much depends
upon

black roman
numerals

inserted with taps and
clicks

inside white columns and
rows.

(With apologies to William Carlos Williams and his “The Red Wheelbarrow” poem.)

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