My forty-first birthday is quickly approaching. What usually happens during this time is that I have heightened sense of the presence of the numbers one, zero, and nine (109, in that order). Like the Punch-buggy game we played as children when we saw a Volkswagon Beetle, I amuse myself when I see these numbers. With this post, I will recall the numerous times I encountered these numbers in curious ways. For starters, we will begin in South Korea where I lived for nearly a decade. During that time, I learned that 109 is a national holiday. On the first birthday I celebrated in Korea, I wore a Hanguel t-shirt in acknowledgement of the national holiday that commemorates the Korean language, Hanguel Day.
While living in South Korea, I recall waking on numerous occasions at 10:09am. This usually occurred days before my birthday. Sometimes I posted about this occurrence to Facebook. I haven’t always been fixated on my birthday, but I have had a tendency to find quirky things throughout my life — I’m an eccentric.
In 2014, I was assigned to group 1009 at the Sogang University’s Summer Korean Language Immersion Program.
2015 was the Chinese year of the ram, which is also my Chinese zodiac. That year my life changed dramatically, because I traveled to 7 countries which was unusual for me. Over nearly a decade living in Korea, I had only traveled to four countries — USA, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. Taken together, I imagined that 2015 was my year, and it was a great year of growth for me. During 2015, I also noticed that I encountered 109 in unusual instances. My fixation with 109 began that year, because prior to that year, I only had slight experiences that demanded my attention such as waking mysteriously at 10:09am, or checking my watch at exactly 1:09pm, for instance.
After experiencing a heightened 109 group of encounters in 2015, I had a cooling off period. I hadn’t encountered those numbers under peculiar circumstances, so I was surprised when I found that the TV satellite channel was set to 109 after I entered my motel room in Bahrain.
Although, I do not have evidence of the following story, I assure you that it is true. There was a cooling off period, which I mentioned above, that occurred during 2017. That year after not seeing 109 for a while, I thought I was in the clear. I had traveled to Sri Lanka and not seen these numbers. Upon my return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where I was then working and living, I had another encounter. I had deplaned, gone through Customs, picked my bags from baggage claim, exited the airport in hopes of hailing a taxi when I saw it. The next taxi in line, which was to be my taxi had a license plate that began with … 109.
In 2015, after having traveled the world extensively, I compiled a book in order to document my journeys, and showcase my accomplishment. I hoped to share my book with my family who I was so far away from.
In 2017, I traveled the world even more extensively than I had done in 2015 and once again I compiled another travel journal.
After having had so many instances where I encountered these numbers, I began to ponder that I should write about these encounters in a book. While taking a nap one afternoon I had a vision of the cover of the next book I would write. It was to be aptly called, 109.
As I continued to travel the world, I also continued to notice 109.
On my second visit to Peru, I visited Machu Picchu where I climbed Montana Machu Picchu. When I arrived at the top of the mountain, I snapped photos and relished in the pride of my accomplishment. There was little else for me to do, but descend the mountain, but I wondered when I should begin my descent. It was in that moment that I checked my watch and noticed that the time was 10:08am. I decided that since I have a habit of encountering 109, that I should start my descent at 10:09am, one minute later. After I pondered the coincidental nature of me once again encountering those number atop the mountain, I recalled something that my cousin, Anwar, told me about Machu Picchu. Anwar suggested that I make my ascent up Machu Picchu early in the morning thereby beating the crowds. He suggested that I do so because it would give me ample opportunity to take in the sights and meditate. Anwar retold to me his experience at Machu Picchu which included him feeling a great sense of peace. Lastly, Anwar told me that there are spirits there. Thus, when I thought back to having seen 109 atop the mountain, I imagined that I had been given confirmation that spirits were contacting me via these numbers.
Another peculiar instance occurred at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. I went to the restroom which was located on the second floor, and noticed 109 had been written on a door near the restroom. This was surprising because I expected the numbers on doors to correspond with the floor — first floor, 100s, second floor, 200s, etc. What was also peculiar was that the number had been written on the door. It was not the door’s assigned number. I snapped a photo for proof.
In 2018, after I had visited Africa, I traveled to Europe. There I stayed in Spain for one month, but also visited Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, and France. My 109 encounter during that trip occurred while I was in Madrid. I had just posted the 1090th picture to my Instagram feed when I exited the hotel where I was staying, turned the corner and saw this license plate in the picture below.
By 2019, I had improved my book making skills so much so that I became proficient at using Adobe InDesign with the help of YouTube videos by Terry White. My colleague Terrell Harris was the first person to recommend that I learn InDesign from Terry White, the Adobe Evangelist. That year, I had a book cover, but I didn’t have a story yet. I thought that a book full of instances where I saw 109 would be clever, but boring. It wasn’t until I moved to the Sultanate of Oman that things began to pick up for me.
The first time I noticed 109 in Oman occurred when I was going to the office of the company where I was employed. Outside the office there was a car parked. Only until several months later did I realize that this car’s license plate (10914) displayed two numbers of significance to me — my birthdate and future wedding date.
While I was living and working in Oman, rapper Nipsey Hussle was murdered in Los Angeles on March 31, 2019. Oman is sixteen hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time, so I received the news on the morning of April 1. I was devastated by the news, but still had to go to work as usual. En route to work a truck cut me off. I felt angry in that moment, but then I noticed something. The truck’s license plate was 1090.
It was exactly one week later that I looked into the sky and saw something that I can’t explain.
The photo above shows two distinct lines in the sky that one may confuse to be chem-trails or con-trails left by planes. What is important to note is that airplanes do not fly over the city particularly at that elevation. Therefore, the explanation that they are lines left by airplanes is not plausible. Something else caused those lines. What is even more intriguing about these lines is the fact that they intersect to form what appears to be a cross.
By the time Nipsey had been murdered, I had seen 109 that very day, and one week later I saw the cross in the sky, I knew that I had a story to retell. Certainly, I felt as if like a Biblical figure, I had received a message from God that needed to be shared. As the weeks passed after Nipsey’s murder, I pondered what all these things could mean. It wasn’t until I harkened to my knowledge of Ethiopian history, knowledge of the Bible, and recent travels that I could interpret these events sufficiently. It was then that I had what became the content of my new book, 109. The story didn’t come to me immediately. In fact, only now, in 2020, am I writing about these events in a detailed chronological manner. When these events had occurred, in 2019, I was inspired to write about these events in the form of a poem. The words flowed out of me quite easily. It was a simple story that I was able to piece together like a puzzle.
I was not asked to stay and continue to teach English in Oman, but I didn’t feel as if my time there had been wasted. I left Oman with a story and a book to share with the world.
Admittedly, 109 can be found nearly anywhere. However, what is peculiar about these situations when I found these numbers is that I was not looking for these numbers in those moments. They appeared to me. Furthermore, these numbers demanded my attention. For instance, after being fired from my job in Oman, I had to wait to be cleared to leave the country. This process included receiving my final paycheck. When I was finally cleared to leave the country, I had been issued a plane ticket, but I had not received my money. My former employer suggested that I go to the local ATM to check whether my money had arrived. I reluctantly did this on a daily basis until my money arrived. I knew that if they money were deposited into my bank account that I would receive an SMS message on my cellphone. I hadn’t received an SMS message, therefore, I knew that I had not received the money. Nevertheless, the office staff suggested that I go to the ATM regardless of whether I received an SMS message to check if the funds had been deposited. I walked to the ATM three days in a row, each time I was disappointed to find that the money had not been deposited. Finally, on the day on which the money was deposited, on my walk to the ATM, I passed a taxi cab parked on the street that had a license plate that caught my eye (pictured below). When I saw this taxi’s license plate, I knew that my money had been deposited into my account. Sure enough, when I checked my balance at the ATM, my money was there.
Since leaving Oman, I have taken my book, 109, with me in hopes of staging photos of people reading 109. It’s been a part of my marketing campaign.