"On Aug. 16, 1977, the singer Elvis Presley died at Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tenn., at age 42."
I'm not really an Elvis fan, but when I saw this blurb in this morning's New York Times, it caught my attention. Elvis was only 42 years old. Only 42?
I remember that day. I remember thinking that Elvis was old and fat and addicted to prescription drugs. Of course he died.
At the time, Elvis seemed ancient, and at age 17 I didn't understand that normal people gain weight as they get older. As for the drug addiction, let's just say I grew up in a sheltered home, and I pretty much thought death was an automatic consequence of using drugs.
Only 42. That's eleven years younger than I am today. And let's just say I'm not thin.
Only 42. That's young!
Elvis had everything. At least, he had lots of money and fame and a big house.
At the same time, he had nothing.
And now he's known for great music and swivel-hip dancing and fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Lots of people impersonate him.
Every now and then you hear that Elvis didn't actually die, that he's alive and well and in witness protection or working in a gas station.
Only 42. I don't think he expected to be dead by age 42. None of us do.
In reality, most of us don't actually think about dying. When we're young, it seems like we'll never get old. Hey, we'll never even get to be age 42. We'll never gain weight. We'll never get bad knees. We'll never get dried out skin and age spots.
And then time passes and we do.
And then we stop getting old. Because we die.
None of us know how long we have on this earth, but the Bible gives an estimate of 70 years. In his book Selling Water by the River, Pastor Shane Hipps calculates 70 years x 365 days = 25,550 days.
That's our estimated life.
Some of us get a little more. Elvis got significantly fewer.
Somehow this information is a little more disturbing than learning that the estimate is 70 years. If we use the number 70, the total doesn't change very often, but if we use the number 25,550, we have a 24-hour countdown clock that lets us see that the number is getting smaller every single day. And when we know how little time we have left, it makes us reconsider how we want to spend the time.
Of my 25,550 days, I only have 6,000 remaining, give or take a hundred or so.
How do I want to spend those days?
Who do I want to spend those days with?
Where do I want to go?
What will be my legacy?
What will be yours?