Another year of life has passed and the day marking that passage was filled with cheerful birthday wishes on Facebook, in emails, and face to face. Although it’s been 3 weeks since I finished the Marine Corps Marathon, I’m still not completely recovered. The aches, the pains, and even the cheerful wishes all remind me that another year has passed and I’m getting older.
But then I received an email from my best friend… He started off by pointing out that we’ve been friends for 40 years, since I was 13 and he was 14. But somewhere along the way, his message of friendship and good cheer took a turn. When he got to “we’ll be fortunate to make it to…” I started to worry. But what the heck, a 20 year old might wonder about that too… right? Anyway, I decided to figure out what age we might achieve if we are fortunate. U.S. men have an average lifespan of 76 years and women about 81 years. So if my friend and I are fortunate we will exceed the average. Those averages also include a lot of people who were not fortunate enough to make it to the ripe old age of 53.
One of the great things about living longer, is the average life expectancy continues to increase based on your current more advanced age. The Social Security Administration will gladly calculate those factors in for you. Check out their Life Expectancy Calculator if your really want to know “what age you’ll be fortunate to make it past”.
For me that is currently 82.5 years, a bit better than the overall 76 year life expectancy for males. This make me feel a little better. Of course there is a limit to this increasing average thing. Eventually if you are really fortunate you exceed the ability of the Social Security Administrations tool to calculate your additional life expectancy. However, that doesn’t happen for men until you hit 120! It appears that 119 is a lofty goal, but a risky position to be in!
To put it all in perspective my friend was sure to remind me that we were of course “well past half way”! Just think of all those great memories! Yes, I have years and years and years of great memories. Many of them with him. But this is a two edged sword, lots of time has past to make those great memories so I have less time to make more great memories in the future. We went back and forth on emails a couple of times and came to the conclusion that we have fairly good recollection of some very early memories of our friendship. This exchange eventually included, “I suppose when I’m “really old” my memories well fade, and I won’t be able to remember hanging out at…”. I can’t blame that bit of joy on my friend, I had gotten into the spirit! I realize, at fifty-three (less scary to spell it out), I am “well past half way”! And if I didn’t the Social Security Administration made it easy by doing the math! With a bit more than 29.5 years remaining (if I’m fortunate) and 53 years of great memories, I’m definitely “well past half way”.
Dave also reminded me how lucky I am to have found my wife. He doesn’t have to remind me, she is a sweetheart! She’s loving, wonderful, adventurous, and I’m a very lucky guy. It wasn’t so much the reminder as the way he put it, you should let Jenny know how happy you are to… “spend your remaining years with” her. We have a terrific marriage, and a very full life, but she might smack me if I talk about our “remaining years”!
I gave Dave a hard time for all the talk of time, “the end”, birthdays and “how many more we may have”. But in truth I have thought about all these things myself over the last few years. It gets harder to avoid the older I get. There are reminders every day of how long I’ve been at this. The aches, the pains, the memories good and bad, and the number of past cheerful birthday wishes I’ve received are adding up. We all meet our Destiny one day (no not the girl you picked up at the club and spent the weekend in Catalina with). Regardless of “how long I have”, I plan to make the most of it. To me life isn’t about making money or collecting things. Even the memories of adventures, travel, and challenges met will be fleeting, no matter how much fun they are to collect. To me what is important is how I live my life, who I share it with, and how I will be remembered – regardless of how fleeting it will all be.