Time Flies, but How Did We Get This Old So Fast?

TIME FLIES—
But How Did We Get This Old So Fast?

Do you know how to estimate how long you might expect to live? The good news is that your life expectancy increases with each passing year.

How Time Flies
Husband Harry often quipped, “Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like bananas,”
but it took me years to learn this wasn’t his original humor.
Here’s where it originated.

In a 1990 article in McCall’s, Bruce Schechter, author of My Brain is Open, explained that time flies in proportion to how old we are, and the first twenty years are the longest half of our life. “They appear so while they are passing; they seem to have been so when we look back on them; and they take up more room in our memory than all the years that follow. This phenomenon has to do with simple mathematics: a year to a five‑year‑old is 20 percent of her lifetime, whereas to someone who’s 50, it’s a mere two percent. Thus a year seems much longer to a youngster than to an adult.” 

You can slow the clock to some degree by reviewing the past, Schechter maintains. “Keeping a journal is an excellent way to sort out the blur of years so they no longer meld in a meaningless jumble, but rather form a satisfying pattern of events and achievements.”

Some years after I clipped that article, I stumbled across the table below, developed by Dr. Leslie Weatherhead, who related the average life span to one’s age and the hours of a day:

If you’re 15, the time is 10:25 a.m.
If you’re 20,  “       “      11:34 a.m.
If you’re 25,  “        “     12:42 p.m.
If you’re 30,  “        “        1:51 p.m.
If you’re 35,  “        “        3:00 p.m.
If you’re 40,   “       “        4:08 p.m.
If you’re 45,   “       “        5:15 p.m.
If you’re 50,   “       “        6:25 p.m.
If you’re 55,   “       “        7:34 p.m.
If you’re 60,   “       “        8:42 p.m.
If you’re 65,   “       “        9:51 p.m.
If you’re 70     “       “     11:00 p.m.

Weatherhead was a Methodist minister in London
and author of many books (1892-1976).

I put this info in my journal and shared it with my subscribers when I was 64, writing: “According to this chart, I graduated from high school about 11 a.m., held a job for a couple of hours, got married, freelanced for an hour, started my first business around 2 p.m. and my second a little past 4 p.m. Since it now nearly 10 p.m. for me, with only two hours to go, I’m doing serious thinking about how I want to spend the rest of my life.”

When I read this again at 80, it was fascinating to see that I was then completely out of time by this chart and the Bible too, given that Psalm 90:10 (NIV) states: “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”

Which begs the question of what happens if we live past eighty?

Living Unafraid as We Age

I got a good answer in Adam Hamilton’s book, UNAFRAID: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Time. In the section on “Aging, Illness, Dying, and Fear of the Lord,” Hamilton  presented a summary of the SSA’s Actuarial Life Table for 2019, which shows the life expectancy for people between the ages of one to 119, with the number of years those of any age can expect to live.

Since this chart is now out of date, one’s life expectancy has already increased by a couple of years or more. Yet that is not the end of the story, because our life expectancy increases with each passing year.

Now past 80, I’m obviously in the Bible’s category of “living longer if my strength endures.” According to the SSA’s Life Table, once I’ve made it to 80, I can reasonably expect to live another eight years (assuming, of course, that my health remains good and I don’t develop a life-threatening illness). If I make it to 88, I might live to be 92, after which time the game continues until the age of 119, where the table stops. (For more info about your life span, search for “Life Expectancy in the USA.”)

In searching for how many in the US are now over 100 years of age, I found that in 2016, there were 82,000 centenarians, a figure expected to increase to 589,000 in the year 2060.

All this suggests that I might have several productive years left to keep doing what I love most and still do best, even after decades of self-employment. As I’ve said before, I will never willingly retire because I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I stopped writing and publishing articles and books. I now see my new website as my vehicle for expressing my beliefs and ideas and helping those who might benefit from the many hard life lessons I’ve learned so far. But I do have three big questions now:

(1) Will I have enough money to get me through to the end of my life?

(2) Will my faith enable me to stay happy, content, and with peace and joy in my heart as the world around me continues to crumble into cultural, political, and social chaos?

(3) How much longer do I really want to live in a quickly-changing world I can no longer relate to and don't know how to live in?  For an eye-opening understanding of today’s disturbing intersection between culture, politics and society and why things are getting worse so quickly today, I urge you to read the article, “Culture of Chaos.”

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!’” – Hunter S. Thompson, from Hell’s Angels

Related Article: What Time is it on Your Cell Phone? A little levity for time-challenged home-business owners.  

Previously published as a Brabec Bulletin blog post on February 18, 2022.

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