The other day I took another one of those silly little online quizzes that I can’t seem to resist. Previous ones have told me nothing surprising about myself: What career path should you follow? Writer. (Uh-huh.) What is your color? Blue. (Yup.) But this one shook me: How long will you live? The answer I got was 93. (Oh, no!)
Most normal people would, I’m guessing, be pleased to be informed that they’re likely to live that long. But in this and any number of other ways, I realize I’m far from normal. Ninety-three?! When I do the math (which is rarely), I see that my finances will – if I live out my days simply and in a so-called “third-world” country – last no longer than my 85th birthday, which is to say, fifteen years from now. Being that old (93) and that destitute is not a pretty thought.
So my mind went into overdrive. Maybe I should take up smoking again? I’m sure the fact that I live so healthfully – exercising every day, eating only healthy food and not too much of it, not smoking anymore – contributed to that silly quiz’s high score. If I started smoking again maybe I could get closer to the 85 y.o. mark.
I used to enjoy smoking, I confess, and there are times when I truly miss it. I was never a heavy smoker – I never smoked more than five cigarettes a day, sometimes only three (and sometimes none). So I guess I wasn’t what you’d call an addict. I found cigarettes soothing, like baby pacifiers for grown-ups. I’ve often thought that if the Surgeon General changed his tune and declared cigarettes healthful (and if they were more affordable), I’d be first in line to buy a carton of Benson & Hedges menthol.
But of course that won’t happen. Cigarette smoking is a harmful, expensive, and dirty habit, which I won’t take up again. I’m too well informed and too wedded to my healthy lifestyle to do anything so foolish.
How long will I live? As long as I’m meant to. And however long that is, I will make the most of it. This is the ongoing challenge of life, isn’t it – to struggle against the natural forces of entropy and continue the uphill path for as long as we live. There are good things to be done in the world, places to go, books to read, people to meet, and surprises all along the way. Who knows? I might just be one impressive 93-year-old lady one day.