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2:35 p.m. - January 20, 2006
Your Lifespan
I am in the process of making some mix CDs for someone (actually, they’re done but butthead me left them at home and didn’t transfer the playlist file to my network drive so I could make the insert card…yeesh) and the song “Lifespan” by the Embarrassment (a very much underground punk / new wave band from the early 80’s based out of the rock and roll capital that is Wichita, Kansas) came up.

The opening verse:

We can double your life span
Then multiply it by two
Add one year
Subtract three weeks to it
And it’s all that we do

(“Lifespan” written by Giessman / Nichols / Goffrier / Klaus)

That got me thinking about our lifespan here on this here planet and in the western world.

In my work, I sometimes need to use lifespan estimators when estimating the ‘maturity’ date of planned giving vehicles (and yes, ‘maturity’ of a planned gift means what you think it means – morbid, yes, but hey you gotta think like that so you can tell the treasurer when they can expect the windfall from Joe Dodderingoldalum).

Some figures to chew on.

“True” life expectancy in the following countries is as follows:

Canada – 85.26
Germany – 83.12
Japan – 90.91
UK – 83.79
US – 82.91

By one table I have, if you are 70, it is expected you will live to be 86.
If you are 75, it is expected you will see 88.
If you are 80, the odds are you’ll hit 90.

One thing also in my reading is that the average age of DEATH in 1800 was age 19. By 1900 it was age 40.

Of course, a lot of that has to do with advances in neo-natal and infant care, the reduction of children and women dying in child birth, and other advances in science and medicine.

But think of it, when we were fighting mastodons and saber tooth tigers, mankind was probably lucky to reach 20 or 25.

In the middle ages, while royalty seemed to live long(er) – Mr. and Mrs. Joe Serf probably didn’t see much past 30 thanks to disease, pestilence, and war. (The raping and pillaging definitely took its toll. Seeing realistic battle scenes in movies and TV recently made me think that ANYONE would be lucky to survive a battle intact).

Nowadays, anyone dying before age 70 seems like they died young.

And that is just going to go up and up as science and medicine make improvements.

Obviously, not everyone lives to see that age. There are certain factors, of course, that affect your potential lifespan:

• Smoking and / or use of tobacco – Unless you are one of the last holdouts from the tobacco lobby – this is pretty much given.
• Drug Use – News flash: Unrepentant use of heroin pretty much results in death at some point.
• Organized Crime Involvement – Think of how many old gangsters there are, really. How many elderly people made it through “Goodfellas” or “The Godfather”? Plus there are street gangs and other aspects of crime that can result in one getting clipped. And that’s not a good thing.
• Eating Habits – That fifth helping of biscuits and gravy can’t be too good for your heart, can it?
• Driving Habits – Driving fast is one thing, driving like a drunken idiot is another, and driving AS a drunken idiot is a whole somethin’ else.
• Sexual Habits – Going to Africa without condoms right now may not be such a good idea. Also, it’s not good to be so promiscuous that things start flaking off of you in certain regions.
• Chuck Norris – Encountering Chuck Norris in the wild could be dangerous. Approach with caution.

I could go on, like joining a third-world guerilla operation as a mercenary probably isn’t good if you want to make sure you use your Roth IRA for your vacation home in Tahoe. Also, being around people with guns, when other people are trying to kill the people with guns, may be hazardous to your health.

Trying to swallow a mongoose probably isn’t wise either, but I digress.

The point is that the lifespan of average people is increasing every year. And as science rolls on, even our ‘bad habits’ can be corrected with new drugs. (Well, they haven’t created a cure yet for bullets entering the heart). So obviously it looks like our lifespan will continue to increase as we all get older.

This is a good thing, I suppose. If you keep your faculties about you, it would be great to witness and remember 80, 90, 100 years of history. I think the increase in lifespan is a good thing for everyone.

I have always said I wanted to live to be 100, and I hope I do. My grandmother lived to be 94 and she was pretty darn sharp up until the bitter end. She didn’t drive, but she was pretty mobile and stayed fairly active in her swingin’ senior citizen apartment complex. (Although it did smell of old people in there, and it was always hot!)

You’re probably going to be here a long time, and we all need to make the most of our time. So let’s get out and fill these next 50, 60, 70, 80 years with all the memories you can handle, so when you finally pass on you’ll have no regrets at all.

Of course, if you want to live a long time, and be healthy, you probably do need to put down the triple bacon cheeseburger (at least today), stop freebasing, and keep the wild carnivorous mammals in the wild and not roaming free in your apartment


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