I have never dwelled on my potential life expectancy until recently.
With the passing of actor Paul Ritter and my recent viewing of an oddly relevant episode of Friday Night Dinner, the topic has surfaced again for the first time since my Dad died.
What made me feel more sentimental was Ritter’s death was by the same disease that killed my Dad.
Ritter was only 54 years old, and I reconciled myself to the reality there will be no more Friday Night Dinner.
Therefore, not wishing to dwell on the negative, I decided to stream some Friday Night Dinner from the last series (yes, series, not season).
How ironic then, the episode I chose to watch, S6 Ep. 4, featured a life expectancy calculator.
Damn Lies and Statistics
Paul Ritter’s character, Martin, was disappointed his life wouldn’t last long enough to visit Mars when visits start in 2050. Then he started quoting the years each of his family might be expected to live.
You can see what’s coming, can’t you?
I wondered if such a website existed, and sure enough, one does—the Life Expectancy Calculator.
The life expectancy calculator is published by the Office for National Statistics, the UK’s largest independent producer of official statistics and is responsible for collecting and publishing statistics related to the economy, population and society at national, regional and local levels.
Now, I know to take such things with a pinch of salt, or at least I would if the salt didn’t affect my blood pressure. And I also know the calculator doesn’t take lifestyle into account.
For example, I could be ripped with bulging muscles and a six-pact or more rounded. You’ll have to guess which.
The life expectancy calculator does not consider my weekly running, regular walking or my fondness for craft beer. Nor does it take account of the slab of butter I put on pancakes.
So there are quite a few pinches of salt to take.
When I’m Eighty-Four
There’s something eerie about seeing one’s statistically derived life expectancy displayed on a screen. The reveal reminded me of when I saw my grandparent’s headstone. Just seeing my surname on a headstone is akin to someone shouting at you;
YOU ARE MORTAL!
But let’s break this down.
If you lived in the Gaza Strip, a life expectancy of 84 years might seem like a pipe dream. With that in mind and knowing that so many people never reach an elderly stage in life, I ask what does 84 mean to me. Assuming it’s doable, of course.
To some, another 32 years is a long time, but to me, 32 is a small number, and if it’s like the last 32 years, it will fly in quickly.
Granted, it might feel slower in prison.
1989 was the year I started my career in health and social care. It was also the year before I got engaged to the wrong woman, and the year before, I bought my first car.
Actually, it was a long time ago.
The ageing process I will go through to get to 84 is something I do think about quite often.
For example, eight years from now, I’ll be sixty years old. That’s scary enough because I still only feel thirty, while my wife thinks I act much younger.
But let’s look on the bright side at the best-case scenario.
I still have a one in four chance of reaching my nineties, so I better keep up with the running and cut down on the butter.
I would love to see 90 years of age, but only if I’m healthy. I don’t want to reach a stage in life when I need someone to help me to the toilet, eat or change TV channels.
There is also an age difference between my wife and me. My wife is nine years older, which means I only really want to be 90 if my darling love is a happy-go-lucky 99-year-old.
Window on the Future
My challenge today is to keep working on my fitness and avoid walking in front of buses.
- keep running
- eat less
- get the blood pressure down
There’s no point in worrying about a number. Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow, let alone reaching 2054.
My overall approach is to live every moment, be kind to people and animals, and chill.
I wonder if James Bond’s No Time To Die will be out by 2054?