25th January 2017: Day 6 - Long Life and Prosperity?

In planning my week of ‘something news,’ I decided that as I was out on a jaunt yesterday I would choose something I could do in the house especially as today was dull and grey.

The idea came from an article in The Guardian as I searched online for things to do as part of this project. It was written by Clare Potter in October 2014 about a woman who, for her husband’s 50th birthday, set him 50 mini challenges including to do a Life Expectancy Calculator Test and identify 5 things he would like to do in the time he had left.

On reading that, my first thought was how risky that was. I wouldn’t ask a fortune teller to predict when I was going to die, because I’m not sure I would dance for joy at the thought that I could live till I was 120 for instance. I suppose it would help me to know if I wasn’t going to make 60 but it’s so near now that I would probably get depressed and waste time better spent making sure I completed my bucket list. Anyway, I’m reasonably healthy and active so there’s no reason for me not to have a good life expectancy. Except…

Both my parents died in their 70s. My Dad was just 70 and my Mum 74. Both of them lost one of their parents before they were 40 (my Mum’s father died when she was 22) and both lost the second one before they hit 45 (I was 44 when my Mum died and my younger sister only 36). Neither of my parents reached the age at which their second parent died – my Dad’s father at 75 and my Mum’s mother was 77 or 78. So curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give it a go.

I followed the link in the article and answered a series of questions about my current age, height, weight and gender. They wanted to know if I drank and how much, if I smoked and how much, how much I earned, how much exercise I did and a couple of other things which I don’t remember. But all in all I was assessed as having a life expectancy of …86!

Well given the history of longevity in my family it’s encouraging to know that I could have another 30 years or even more if I do a bit more exercise. I also discovered that, because I don’t drink alcohol at all, I have a lower life expectancy than people who have 1 drink per day???

Of course, all of this must be taken with a big pinch of salt. It can’t predict whether or not I’ll be hit by a bus or find myself in a vehicle crash or some other unforeseen incident. It must also be noted that the aim of assessing your life expectancy on that site was as a pre-amble to selling a retirement planning service. But 86 was what I got and I’ll take it.

We’re living longer. Based on the results I have at least another 31ish years. When I think back 31 years I was in my 20s, working as an actor, sure that that was only thing I would ever do. I was happy doing what I was doing, I was in an environment that nourished me, and I worked with new and interesting people. Within 10 years I had changed careers and moved to having ‘proper jobs.’ But I was never as happy as when I was acting, never as happy as I am now. There’s something that happens when you know you're doing the right thing and you know you are surrounded by the right people. That’s how I felt then and that’s how I feel now. I can’t imagine myself going back into the ‘professional’ environment as an employee and the thought that I can live the next 30 years the way I should have been living the last 20 is both empowering and enlivening.

Oh and the 5 things I would do in the time I have left

1. Buy a home in a not climate

2. Publish my novel

3. Take a helicopter ride

4. Go to New York

5. I'm not sure yet

2016 was a strange year – so many people famous and not, seem to have died. I went to 4 funerals last year and I know of at least 3 other deaths. The worst thing is that not all these people were particularly old with the youngest a mere 53 years old. I made a slightly flip remark earlier about being depressed if I knew I wouldn’t live to see my 60th birthday – yes I might but that depression would last only a minute or so and then I would live the hell out of life. That’s what I would have said this time last year. But now I feel like I lived the last 20 years as though I were already dead and I won’t be continuing in that vein, so no matter how much time I have left, my intention is to live the hell out of life anyway.

Care to join me?