It’s a Thin Line Between Magical Thinking and Mental Illness
The magic — and the danger — of looking for patterns in the world
Last night, while searching “the significance of 38,” I landed on a Yahoo! Answers page. It was not the first time I’ve sought comfort in strangers’ answers to other strangers’ questions.
In fact, the most useful information I’ve obtained since the internet was usefully searchable has been from message boards, from people with questions professionals couldn’t answer or from people with questions for which there are no designated professionals. (This practice is so common now that, as I write this, there are 837 million search results for “My medical degree is from Google University.”)
The question I had last night fell somewhere between there-is-a-professional-for-this and there-is-not-a-professional-for-this. In fact, the very in-between nature of the question is relevant to the answer I eventually found on Yahoo.
When I typed “the significance of 38” into the search engine, I wasn’t looking for its numerology, although I may have felt different if those search results had been more relevant to my current dilemmas. I don’t really know what I was hoping to find, but had I fallen upon a message containing “38” written by John Titor — a self-proclaimed time traveler from the year 2036 — I might have gotten excited.
What I found instead were pages and pages of Angel Number websites, until I scrolled to a result titled “Why do I keep seeing the number 38 everywhere?”
This was basically my question, too, so I clicked on it.
Almost six months ago now, I had a dream that included a six-digit number. The next morning, I tapped out the details in the Notes app on my phone, which I’ve been doing for about two years.
I started this morning practice because I dream the future. Sometimes the dreams I have at night come true the next day, or three days later, or even after a week goes by. And while there is plenty of strong evidence indicating that this is actually a thing — scientists are studying the phenomenon — it’s been satisfying to track my dreams and then announce out loud with glee to anyone in the vicinity when one of them comes true.