Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Days of Our Lives

If you were to find out that you have a terminal illness and would die in 2 year’s time, what would you do differently?
And... if that's the best use of your time, then why aren’t you doing that already?

Ever wonder how many days you are going to live? It's not in the millions, or even the hundreds of thousands. The average person lives to age 74. That calculates out to only about 27,000 days. That's what we start out with. Seems small doesn't it? If you take off the first 10 years, because you're too young to know what's going on, and take off the years in your 60's and 70's when you are in declining health and spending time going from doctor to doctor, that leaves about 18,000 “good” days. And most of those are spent working. In fact, if you take out work days, you get about 100 days per year, or about 5,000 days to call your own in the average lifetime – assuming there is no early demise. And of those, some will be sick days, and a lot you will be doing things you don't want to do. Yardwork, housework, shopping, social obligations, etc. It really narrows down pretty quickly to a frighteningly small number.

If you’re living an average life, you probably have bills to pay and those bills are going to continue coming in for at least the rest of the healthy years of your life (and probably beyond that). This means that you should probably count on working the days it takes to earn the money to pay them. So, for each year, there are about 260 work days, leaving 100 days per year in weekends, holidays, vacation, etc.

So this means that if you are 40 right now, you have about 2,000 non-work days left to enjoy your life in. If you look at your weekends over the past few years, how many of them were all spent doing things other than work around the house, or paying bills, mowing the yard, or spent with social obligations, etc. In the last month, how many whole days did you have to yourself? 4? 2? Let’s be generous and say it was 4. That would be half of every weekend dedicated to just doing whatever YOU wanted to do. That’s probably more than most people get, but let’s say you had that. In this case, you’ve got about 1,000 days left. If you’re 50, then cut that in half. This means you’re down to about 500 days left that aren’t going to get sucked away into the abyss of housework and other tasks to support everyday life. 500 days.

I don’t want to spend any of those precious days being angry, or sad, or full of regret over mistakes, or second-guessing past decisions. I will learn from the past, but not dwell on it. I just want to keep moving forward. But I also want to more forward carefully, and not waste time.

How many of those days will be good weather days for golfing? Or fishing? Or hiking, kite-flying, photography, boating, ballooning, whatever you like to do. Or what about travelling? There are a number of places I'd love to see before my "days account" is empty. Have you been thinking you were going to do something great and important with your life? Like hold a political office? cure a major disease? Solve a major social problem? Become a famous actor, comedian or renowned rock star?

In my case, the time is probably past for doing anything really important or grand such as that, so I will have to pursue more moderate goals. Beside writing new tunes, and going back to doing some artwork, I was thinking of writing a technical book. This one would be related to the area I’m working in these days, and would help with getting teaching gigs for teaching classes in the subject area. It’s part of a career back-up plan for coming into an age range (50’s) where companies don’t want to keep you as a full-time staff anymore.

But now I have to seriously think about the investment of days. It’s not something I can work on during normal work hours, so like my previous books, it would have to be done in my personal hours. How many of my precious 500 days would that take, exactly? If it’s going to be say, 40 chapters, and if I spend say, 10 days researching, writing and illustrating each chapter, that would mean it would burn up about 400 days. That’s almost all I have left! So maybe, I make it 25 chapters, and try to cut corners to do it quicker? Or do I forget the project altogether and spend the time out watching movies or walking or travelling? It comes down to the very pragmatic question of, “How much of my precious present time should I sacrifice to try to make my future time easier?”.

It’s interesting the kinds of questions you ask yourself when you really start to think about how much unencumbered time you truly have left. Do we create a budget of days left? Like money in the bank that you can spend. Once. Invest x days into this project or that one. Spend this much with family, this much with friends, this much alone, this much on hobbies, this much on self-improvement, this much on career development, this much on travelling,….etc.

These kinds of questions make a lot of other questions we think about seem small and trivial by comparison, don't they?


At 1/25/2009 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say you are already answering your question. Do you have to be famous> Do you have to leave books behind? How long does fame lasts? Who is judging the thing called 'fame'? Since it shows that you are an average man with middle of the road concerns, ambitions and dreams, why not just be?? Whether there are 5, 50 or 500 days left to be in the 'now'. Remember, we are just specs of dust, soon to be swept away by a gust of wind. Have a nice day Mr. Serrie.

At 10/02/2009 5:19 PM, Anonymous Stephanie Gardner said...

You need to update your blog sir... Let's get together soon..


At 4/18/2013 5:23 AM, Anonymous Warrantech said...

Steph I agree with you Val you need to update your blog


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