March 15, 2013

The inevitability of life coming a full circle

I might come across as crazy, depressed, needing help, out of my mind or a combination of the above in this post, but continue reading until the end before judging me. This is the first post in a series of deep thoughts or my flavor of philosophy.

I was watching the Olympics ceremony headlines the other day and I noticed Muhammed Ali lighting the torch on behalf of Team USA. It was a sad sight to the see the greatest of all time with the dreadful disease that has become a fixture of his post-retirement life. Seeing him with high spirits was a good sign though.

I remember the song that DJ Steve Porter created as a tribute for Team USA that features some of his most powerful words. 

It is an amazing tribute to the man who never gave up. His poetry and character speaks volumes about his world view and philosophy. Too bad I never grew up around the time he was still active in boxing. Being a 90's child, Mike Tyson was the biggest star I witnessed go from pauper to great success back to being pauper. Ali will be remembered for generations to come.

While randomly youtubing for Ali speeches and biographies, I saw something that deeply affected me. Which brings me to the topic of this post. The video in question is when a kid asked Ali what he would do post-retirement. His answer made me squirm in my seat. An hour later, I was still thinking about how powerful his thought was. 

A couple of days later, I was thinking what I was going to do about the rest of my life. The fear of leading a non-descript life in some corner of the earth is something that haunts me. I'm 27 years old. I probably have another 40 years if I am healthy. The problem is, I am not. Being morbidly obese for quite a large part of my life, I know I'm not immortal. Having lost loved ones doesn't make the situation much easier. However, being the cheery person I am and doing things I love doing keeps me focussed on moving up in life.

Ali's message keeps flashing in the back of my mind. What if I counted how much time I had left? What would I do with the rest of my life if I knew that? 

Assume I might be alive until 80. 

52 years more. 

18980 days more.

455520 hours more.

Assume I sleep 6 hours a day, which is the average. My usual timing is 4-5hrs on weekdays and 8-9hrs on weekends.

6/24 = 0.25 days out of 1 day lost in sleep.

0.25 * 365 = 91.25 days of the year lost in sleep.

91.25 * 52 = 4745 days of next 52 years lost in sleep.

4745 days is 13 years. Shave off 13 from 52 and I have 39 years to live life.

Eating, watching TV or spending time online is going to be a constant for the rest of my life. Assume I spend 4 hours a day doing all that.

4/24 = 0.16 days out of 1 days lost for personal development.

0.16 * 365 = 58.4 days in a year lost for personal development.

58.4 * 52 = 3036.8 days of next 52 years lost in personal development.

3036.8 days is around 8 years and 4 months. Shave off 8 years and 4 months from 39 and I have 30 years and 8 months to live life.

I generally watch movies atleast once a month or in spurts when I get time. Assume I watch one 2h 30m Indian movie a week and two 2h Hollywood movie a month.

2h30m * 4 = 10 hours a month lost in watching movies.

2h * 2 = 4 hours a month lost in watching movies.

14 hours * 12 = 168 hours a year lost in watching movies.

168 * 52 = 8736 hours of next 52 years lost in watching movies.

8736/24 = 364 days of next 52 years. Or 1 year lost in watching movies.

Shave off another year and I have 29 years and 8 months to live life.

I work 8 hours a day and will probably work till age 60. So, 32 years more of 9-5 work.

8/24 = 0.33 days out of 1 day lost in a desk job.

0.33 * 5 days = 1.65 days of a week lost in a desk job.

1.65 days * 52 weeks = 85.8 days a year lost in a desk job.

85.8 * 32 years = 3003 days of next 32 years lost in a desk job.

3003 days is 8 years and approximately 2 months. Shave that off from 29 years and 8 months and I get 21 years and 6 months.

All my analsyis above assumes I will never fall sick in all this. Assume before 60, I fall sick 0.5 days a month on average. Assume after 60, I fall sick 2 days a month on average.

Age 60 - 80

2 * 12 months = 24 days a year lost being sick. 

24 * 20 years = 480 days over 20 years lost being sick.

Age 28 - 60

0.5 * 12 months = 6 days a year lost being sick. 

6 * 32 years = 192 days over 32 years lost being sick.

That is a total of 672 days being sick. It translates to 1 year and 10 months of being sick. Shave off 1 year and 10 months from 21 years and 6 months. I have 19 years and 8 months of being hale and healthy.

I have a 2 week vacation every year. Since the activity of being on vacation involves a part of the 8 hours work I calculated and a part of the eating sleepin calculation, I'm being a bit liberal with 2 weeks a year for the next 52 years. Perhaps, I'll drop it down to a week of vacation that might be more reasonable.

1 week * 52 years = 52 weeks on vacation.

1 year on vacation. Shave that off from the tally and I have 18 years and 8 months left to live life.

Vacations remind me of travelling. You know, going to the grocery store, driving to fill gas, going to a mechanic, visiting furniture shops, spend time looking for a house to buy, drive down to meet family in a nearby city and so on. How do we quantify that? Trying to measure something that cannot be neglected and at the same time cannot be quantified accurately is tough. I'm going to assume I spend 3 days a month doing all of the above.

3 days * 12 months = 36 days a year spent travelling.

36 days * 52 years = 1872 days spent travelling.

That is approximately 5 years and 2 months spent travelling. Shave off from my tally and I have 13 years and 6 months.

13.5 years to make something out of myself. All the math above is based on approximation with huge assumptions. Assuming I might live until 80 is the biggest one. Not counting sleep, eating and such out of the vacation, sick time and travelling is another approximation. Overall, it might not be the best way to do math, but it is very interesting.

13.5 years of trying to live life. To be remembered in history, you are supposed to acheive fame before the end of your career. Nobody remembers someone who was famous solely after death, that they didn't hear about when they were alive. Building respect, reputation, fortune and fame is probably what every man (and woman) dreams of. Is it too big a dream to achieve? Is it something that a simple man like me cannot aspire for? Are there boundaries to what you can dream of and the aspirations you may have? No. The realists and cynics might laugh at that statement. Cynics are probably the reason many do not achieve the feat of being remembered in history. Or cynical historians who love to spin.

Coming to the bigger question. What do you do when you know your time in this earth is limited? It is an aspect of life that has kept puzzling me. What about patients with terminal illness? Stories of sorrow and courage are both possible. Even though they do not know how much time they have left, how can someone prepare to say goodbye? A lot of love and care is what I tend to think. If only everyone in this world appealed to their inner angels to think that way. Maybe that is what the eventuality of death brings to you. It transforms cynics to believers. It makes quitters into never giving up. A fight to stay alive. A fight not meet god too soon, not yet.

That Ali response pretty much throws a challenge to you. What will you do to make peace with god? Ali will be remembered, but how will history judge me? It is not a simple feeling to be brushed off as "Oh, he's so insecure!". For arm-chair philosophers and thinkers like me, these are probably the deeper questions that you cannot answer citing a proof or a set of examples. 

I guess in the end, you live life for what it is. Someone will probably remember me for the rest of their life. My legacy will live through until they rest their eyes. Unless I change the course of history by influencing it by my actions, my story and the knowledge of having known me will be limited to my social circle. That is something to live for. Touching the lives of those around you, helping in every possible way you can and contributing to society in your own quiet way.

You live life to see and take part in great moments. You cherish them forever with your loved ones.

You live life to acheive what you can to the best of your efforts.

You live life to see the happiest moment of your life when you get married or when you have a child.

You live life to provide food, shelter and any other tangible property to your family.

You life life for learning about other's legacies and you celebrate the legacies of those whom history will eventually forget.

You live life to eternally search for peace of mind.

You live life for that eventuality that one day, you will only be remembered by others.

The inevitability of life coming a full circle: something that started at a time you do not remember and ended at a time when you do not get to see what happens after it ends. 



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