Guest Post: “The Death Clock” by Stephen Garner

This blog was originally posted on my father’s blog,

It’s not like I am in a hurry for 2020 to end but, I got a head-start on my New Year’s resolutions recently.  I read a preview from an upcoming book called, Win The Day, by Mark Batterson.  Not only did it whet my appetite for the release of the new book, but it also introduced me to the Death Clock. 

The Death Clock is a website where you can enter certain personal information and the Death Clock will calculate your date of death. I have worked off deadlines for over 40 years in the legal field, so if I knew the ultimate deadline, just think how productive I could be.  So, I entered my date of birth, my status as a non-smoker with an optimistic outlook, a non-drinker, who was proud to be an American citizen.  I then had to list my height and weight in order to get a BMI (Body Mass Index).  I had not weighed during the COVID-19 pandemic, so I estimated that I had gained a couple of pounds (based on the phenomena of simultaneous pants’ waist size shrinkage).  This had resulted in my buying my first pair of pants in a size 34-inch waist after most of my adult life wearing size 32 or 33.  I entered my estimated weight of 175.  It should be noted my weight had been within a couple of pounds of 170 for over a decade, but the family trait of the Garner gut had become more pronounced during this pandemic.

The web site calculations gave me a BMI of 25.1.  Only whole numbers can be entered in the formula, so I rounded it down to 25.  The Death Clock then returned the verdict.  At the time of testing, I was 62 years, 2 months and 1 day old.  Based on their estimation, I would die on Saturday, November 2, 2046, at the age of 88 years, 1 month, and 2 days.  I was pretty pleased with this life expectancy.

However, I began to consider if I was going to get a true “deadline” life expectancy, shouldn’t I make sure it was accurate?  You know, the whole garbage-in, garbage-out calculation thing.  So, I went into Terri’s bathroom and weighed.  180 Pounds…how can that be?  I have never weighed 180!  But I have never been 62 and living through a world-wide pandemic either.  Those darn pandemic pounds!  Too much comfort food; too much Netflix binge-watching; not enough exercise – a formula to get fat.

I went back to the Death Clock and entered the new, more accurate data into the formula.  My BMI was now 25.8, at the upper end of “overweight” (and not too far from “obese”).  Now I had to round this up to a whole number – 26.  The result was that my date of death moved to Sunday, April 30, 2045, at the age of 86 years, 6 months and 29 days. 

Those 5 pounds and one point on the BMI scale, would cost me 1 ½ years of my life!  Wow, talk about a reality check…  I can honestly say that I had already decided to get started back on the elliptical, but I did not procrastinate until the start of 2021 to do so.  It had been on my mind, because Terri had indicated she wanted me to move it out of the living room into my study, where it had been before.  It came in pretty handy there as another coat rack, but it had not been used for any other purpose by me for a number of months.  I had been motivated to use it in the past as I was preparing for mountain hikes in Colorado. But 2020, although filled with other dangerous adventures: like continuing to go to work; going to the grocery store, Walmart and Dollar General; flying on a plane; and attending in-person church services, did not include this trail lawyer trekking to mountain summits.

Guys need goals, and now I had a good one.  I decided to get an “extension of time” on my death deadline.  5 Pounds = 1 ½ years.  26 Years vs. 24 ½ years.  That could make the difference in my living long enough to see my new grandson, Preston, graduate from some top graduate school, get married and/or maybe sire my first great grandchild.  I’d say those are some worthy goals, how about you? 

I remember early in my legal career when one of my mentors introduced me to the concept of an extension of time.  You could actually request that the court or an opposing counsel give you a little more time for a filing deadline.  That revolutionized my practice of law and removed a lot of stress.  But you did have to ask.  Usually, folks were accommodating and granted the extension of time.  Now, I had a similar “aha” moment: Exercise = Increased Life Expectancy.  But there is a catch.  You do have to act on this exercise concept.  This is the ultimate extension of time on the ultimate deadline.

So… I have been exercising more regularly for about a week now.  I’ve lost 2 pounds.  In the past, my best motivation has been getting ready for the next 14er in Colorado.  But now I find that facing your mortality is a pretty good motivator too!

I printed out the Death Clock calculations – one on the front side of the page and the other on the back side of the same piece of paper.  I am keeping the 88 and 86 ½ ages on my desk for me to see each day.  I work best off deadlines.

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