What is a lifetime? Is it a set number of years the statisticians use to measure a period in history? ….. or is it a flexible period of time we use to denote lengthy periods in our lives? Or – is it the exact number of years we live?
If it is the latter, (as it surely has to be in reality) then whose lifetime? I read an article recently about a lady in Asia who had recently celebrated her 111th birthday, and she had children of 92 and 89! All the usual questions were rolled out by the journos – to what do you attribute your longevity? What is the secret of your long life ? etc etc. Good on her, of course, to have done so well and still be fit enough to be ‘interviewed’. Clearly this is not an ‘average’ lifetime, but it is her lifetime.
I read a facebook post the same day from a young teenager suffering from Leukemia. He was aware of the dire state of his health and he had set up a donation site to try to raise $10000 for Leukemia research before he died. I, of course, donated to this brave boys site. He died a week later and had indeed, topped the $10000 mark for his wish – to help others with the same sickness which ended his young life. His lifetime was 14 years.
So what is a lifetime? Clearly it is a totally individual period of time each of us has to be on this earth, living our lives. For some it will be very lengthy ( my Dad is 91) for others it will be ridiculously short (the baby who dies shortly after birth). For all of us it is limited; for all of us we rarely know long in advance when it will end; for most of us the end is feared.
Perhaps there is a case, then, to end this sloppy use of the term ‘a lifetime’. It seems inappropriate to throw the term around to describe a fanciful time period because it may suit our argument ( gosh this is taking a lifetime!!)
A lifetime is a lifetime. For some it is too short, for some it is too long, for all it is simply what we have – a time on this Earth dictated for us by external circumstances, chance, good or bad fortune. It is individual and no two lifetimes are the same. What matters is what we do with our lifetime.
For me, my oft held assumption that I would live as long as my father is gone …… but on the other hand each day I have lived beyond 51 is one day longer than my mother lived.
The challenge for us all, brought home with a big clunk for me, is how we make each day one that we have used well. As the days slip by the challenge gets bigger, and more daunting – until the end. An end with happy thoughts and happy memories is the greatest gift we can give ourselves.