When I was a kid, the concept of 1 million anything was pretty much mind-boggling.
For the longest time, 1 million was the biggest number I could imagine, my infinity before I ever grasped the concept. As such, it was my default measurement of anything whose proportions struck me as almost impossibly massive.
The size of the Earth? At least a million miles. My parents' income? I mean, they owned a house. It had to be at least $1 million.
As I got older and began to grasp the scope of the universe, however, 1 million seemed to shrink. It lost some of its grandeur. Now, it can seem positively prosaic at times.
Consider how we measure wealth. In the 19th century, only robber barons and captains of industry were bonafide millionaires. The word was synonymous with vast riches. Now, it's a financial achievement that's about as commonplace as stray cats.
According to research firm Spectrem Group, there are 9.6 million American households with a net worth of at least $1 million. (Andrew Carnegie and Cornelius Vanderbilt would be horrified.) Forget millionaires; the new upper crust is the billionaire, a claim only 492 Americans can make, according to Forbes.
In 1803, the U.S. paid $15 million to France for the 828,000-square-mile Louisiana Purchase. Fast-forward to 2010, and a corporate mogul in Mumbai, India, finished building Antilia, a 27-story, single-family home with an estimated cost of $1 billion.
Clearly, the sun has set on the reign of Million. All hail the Age of the Billion.
At least, that's how I used to feel until a few weeks ago, when my YouTube channel finally passed 1 million views.
In the seven years since I started the channel as an exercise in artistic narcissism, I've posted more than 100 recordings of myself playing Irish tunes on a variety of instruments. A couple of years ago, I stopped uploading as frequently, but I occasionally would return to track my view count's glacial crawl toward the 1 million mark.
In passing that milestone, I'm once more in awe of the lowly million. Of course, my achievement pales in comparison to YouTube's most-watched video -- Psy's "Gangnam Style" -- which has about 2,000 times as many views as my entire channel, but how often in my life will something I've created earn 1 million of anything? I think this is pretty much it.
And, for that, I can only say "thank you," a million times over.
Contact Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...