July 4th, 2018, was my 10,000th day on this Earth. Independence Day. How fitting. I was 27 years, 4 months, and 18 days old.
There was nothing special about the day. In fact, I don’t even remember it. And yet…10,000 sunrises. 10,000 times I went to bed. 10,000 times I woke up. Nearly 10,000 times I brushed my teeth. Nearly 10,000 showers. And a lot of living that happened in-between.
Of course, nowadays, most people live not just to 27-and-a-half, but to 30 and then some. Yet, just 150 years ago – which is only a little more than 10,000 days times 5 – most people didn’t. In 1870, the global average life expectancy was 29.7 years. Having turned 31 this year, I would already be an outlier by those standards.
And why not use those standards? Sometimes, looking back is more useful than looking forward. It is the kinder option, usually, so use it when we need kindness we shall.
It’s true that average is for losers, and I’m sure in your career, you have no problem giving yourself a hard time about this. The race towards our place in the sky, however, is rarely won by being a little bit faster. It is by stepping out of the race altogether – refusing to let ourselves be measured with any kind of stick that dons an “average” marker – that we’ll find both our pace and our place.
If celebrating our 10,000th day as something a little more special than a regular birthday or even the independence of a nation is the kind of ritual that helps us do that, then I think in that case, using (an old) average to our advantage is more than fair game.
Here’s to the next 10,000 days.