Eight Percent

Percentages. It’s amazing how much they can mean. We toss them about very very casually; we use them daily.

I grew up drinking 2% milk, I listened to Soul Coughing sing about the 5% Nation. I wanted to graduate in the top ten percent of my high school class and only made it into the top 15. 20% of my classmates from freshman year didn’t graduate at all.

In college it was always “Man you were so close. Another 3 percent and you would have had it.” Whatever the hell “it” was, I never knew and never really cared.

When I moved over here the recruiters threw percentages at us like they candies leading us all, Hansel and Gretel like, into the forrest. Things like “20 percent of our teachers end up making a career in the company.” “I think close to a hundred percent of our teachers learn at least some Japanese.” “99 percent of our teachers have had no complaints about their working environment.”

At least those were easy to spot as bullshit, or at least, as irrelevant. Other statistics, though, like one in every eight teenage girls getting pregnant, scared the living shit out of me on one occasion and for at least 90 percent of my friends too.

See how easy that was?

Sorry. I’m not really trying to be clever. My point is that we never really think about the stats we use all the time. Or, at least, I don’t.

But I got a phone call today. Back home, my grandfather’s heart is down to seven or eight percent functionality. Which means it’s only a matter of time.

And I thought really long and hard about eight percent, and about what it means and about what I’d do with only eight percent left and whether or not I should even post this.

What remains, now, is that I don’t have any answers. I don’t have anything pithy or profound to say. I just have an image, in my head, of a heart reduced to eight percent. Beating.

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