It’s probably rare to find a staff meeting where the conversation turns to death and exploring how many hours and days each of us has left on earth. In my work, this isn’t out of the ordinary – let me explain. I am the Executive Director of a new non-profit called End in Mind. Founded by MPR’s Cathy Wurzer, End in Mind is a statewide initiative whose purpose is to ignite transformative conversations in communities about intentional and purposeful living now and through the end of life. We talk about death a lot.
This particular Monday, I shared a statistic I had heard: with the average lifespan of 75 years, we can expect about 650,000 hours of living. Our staff dove head first to test various death calculators, gaming the system to find the one that showed the most optimistic projection. Kingscalculator.com gave me the best news, so I recommend giving that one a try. Save the date, by the way – I am scheduled to die on October 27th, 2050 at the age of 85. The Monty Python skit in my head pops up where the Angel of Death comes to my door in a couple years and I show him the website and tell him, in a British accent, to return much later!
The calculator leaves me with 32 remaining years, or about 280,000 hours. That led me to consider how we rarely think of our time as finite, or at least I never do. What if we were as frugal or intentional with our time as we try to be with our money? If I had just $280,000 in my bank account and needed to stretch that money out for 32 years, you better believe I would circle the block to find free parking versus paying for the meter. In thinking about time in this new way, how would I approach my day, my week, my year?
I thought how silly it was that I would spend some of my few precious hours left watching an episode of the Bachelor the previous evening. On later reflection, I abandoned that judgment. I watched that episode with my 20-year-old daughter and two of her wonderful friends from high school who were on break from college. We laughed at the absurdity of the show for three hours, bonding over every ridiculous line. So, to me, I spent those three hours wisely.
To borrow from the Bible, I do know that “but of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, not the Son, but the Father alone.” To many, my death calculators may be foolish. But they can lead to a pretty rich exploration on intentional and purposeful living now and through the end of life, so give it a try!