A friend recently challenged me with the thought of “numbering my days.” The phrase comes from Psalm 90:12, which reads, “teach us, O Lord, to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Earlier in the psalm, we are told that “the years of our life are seventy, or if by strength, eighty . . . ” So I decided to “split the difference,” and use 75 for computational purposes.
Right now, I’m fifty years old, plus 263 days. If I live to be 75, that gives me 9,223 days (102 days left until I turn 51, 25 years x 365 days = 6 leap year days). Now, this may seem like an excessively literal interpretation of this Bible passage and a morbid preoccupation. But there are at least two things that this exercise has been useful for:
1. 9,223 days is a long time. When you turn fifty, a rude awakening takes place. More than likely, you have lived much more of life than there is in front of you. Calling fifty “middle age” is a polite fiction. “Middle age” is more like 35 or 40. I know that with better health care and so forth, people are living longer than they used to. Still, not that many people live to be 100. But I digress. The good news is that there’s alot in front of me, and I’m better equipped than ever to make the most of it.
2. It breaks the divide between “work life” and “retirement”. I don’t want to retire. Ever. My dream is to keep doing what I’m doing now and find ways to fund the teaching and the writing that I’m doing. Sure, I’d like to do some traveling and participate in some other adventures, but I’m already doing what I love. So, I’m not crossing off the days on the calendar until I can collect Social Security (if it’s still there) or so that I can sit in the sun in South Florida and watch people play golf and complain about how hot it is!
3. It sends a strong message that long term planning is possible and desirable. Looking at my life from such a stark point of view, it seems tragic to simply saunter aimlessly through my days and just get by. It adds incentive to living mindfully, planning wisely, and focusing time and energy on the best and most productive activities. It leads me to ask, “what would I like to be true about my life in 25 years? What would I like to have done?”
4. It means that now is the time to start building. Truth be told, I don’t know if I have 9,223 days left. I may have one. Or I may have 12,000. But this does speak to the fact that the time left is finite. While it is a generous amount of time, it’s not infinite. So it’s time to put off excuses and get to work.
What are your thoughts on this?