The Life Ruler

I think it’s valid to say that a large majority of people have been told something that they’ll never forget.  It could be a story, a saying, a simple motto, advice or an interesting fact.  I have many things I remember for different reasons, but one thing I have been told in the past really resonated with me today.

Several months ago, I was next door at my grandparents’ house for a visit.  I don’t know how or what we were talking about, but I can imagine it had to do with the direction of my life as I was approaching my 28th birthday and was still craving one way tickets around the world.  Many people think I’m doing it all wrong, while others think the opposite.

Anyway, as we were talking about life and age, and my Grandpa asked me, “Have you ever heard of the life ruler?”

I had no idea what he was going on about, and told him that, “No, I’ve never heard of the life ruler.”

A retired electrician but life long handyman, of course he had a measuring tape within reach, and thus began his teachings…

“So let’s say the average man lives to be about 78, for arguments sake, okay?  Well, I’m 71.”  He proceeds to pull out the measuring tape and presses the lock button to hold the tape out at 78 inches.  “So, here’s my life on a line, and here’s me right here,” he says, pointing at the 71.

He continued, “Now let’s say the average woman lives to be, oh, 85.”  He unlocked the tape and pulled it out farther, locking it now on 85 inches.  “You’re turning 28.”  For added emphasis, he lifted the tape and pulled it across the top of the island in their kitchen. “Put your finger on 28.” I did as told.

“If anyone thinks you’re doing things wrong, you have a long time to fix it.”

We laughed to bring some light into the conversation.  We talked about how that was such a confronting visual representation of life, but how it really showed just how much life I still have in front of me.  Of course seeing only another 7 inches to go on Grandpa’s suggested life ruler was quite saddening, but he admitted that he was quite happy with the life he’s lived so far, and hopes to make it well past that suggested 78.

This isn’t something that I think about all the time, but is something I will never forget.  Today, the visual came full circle, and was a reminder of not only how amazing life is, but how much I could have left if all goes well and I’m granted that time.  I was sitting in a resource room today for a supply job, and there was a timeline from 1-100.

For those who know me well or even just know me a little bit, I’m sure it’s common knowledge that I’m always in 5th gear with numerous things on the go.  I’m not often in one place for too long, and only stop when I sleep.

As of late, I’ve been wondering what’s next.  Japan?  Taiwan?  South East Asia?  The UK?  Back to New Zealand, then island hopping and SCUBA diving?  Or… getting into the book I plan on writing?  Maybe starting my ultimate top secret business idea?

Who knows…

What I do know is that the number line on the wall today reminded me of my Grandpa’s little lesson, and how on a number line… I sure still have a lot of time left.  I think I’m doing pretty well.

A xo

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