May 28th, 2021

Carpe Diem Friends — Our Time Is Limited, Make Every Day Count

Mortality life expectancy carpe diem
Photo from Gunwerks Sheep Mountain L3 Mountain Shooting Course in July 2021. Register Here.

This story is not directly about firearms, or reloading gear, or any of the little details of our sport. It, instead, is about life… and, sadly, about death. The recent passing of a friend (and fellow shooter) got me to thinking, “I’m nearly sixty-six — what if I only had ten more years to live — how would I want to live my life? What really counts the most? What things would I do differently? What dreams would I pursue?”

AccurateShooter.com has many thousands of readers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. Hopefully we will all live long, happy, and fruitful lives. But it’s wise to remember that we are all mortal, and the clock is ticking. Consider this — in the United States, the average male life expectancy is 76.3 years.*

Using that number as a rough benchmark, I may have just 10 and a half more years to enjoy life and to do the things I love — shooting, traveling, sailing, camping, listening to music, being with friends and family. Only 10.5 years left — that’s a real number my brain can comprehend all too well, particularly after the last 14 months have been so restricted due to COVID.

There is some good news — the actuarial tables predict that, since I’ve almost made it to 66 years already, I should live well past age 76. The predicted life-span of a 66-year-old American male is 17.2 years, which works out to 206 more months, and 896 more weekends. That’s less scary, but the message still rings true — time is running out. Live your dreams while you can.

Living a Life with More Good Times, and Fewer Regrets

Recently, a group of men, very near the end of their lives, were surveyed. They were asked if they would do things differently if they could live their lives over again. The vast majority of these men gave surprisingly similar responses, which fit into five “Life Lessons”. These “Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” were reported in a story by Bronnie Ware, writing for the AARP online magazine. Ware writes: “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced.” Here are the five regrets most often mentioned by older men:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. ”

Lesson: Don’t wait to follow your dreams. Be true to yourself.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
“This came from every male patient [surveyed]. All of the men… deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

Lesson: Don’t let your work crowd out other important aspects of life.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming.”

Lesson: Express yourself truthfully. Don’t suppress your feelings for decades.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
“There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort they deserved. Many [were] so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years.”

Lesson: Take an interest your friends’ lives; keep bonds of friendship strong.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
“This is a surprisingly common [regret]. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice.”

Lesson: Affirmatively pursue the things that bring you happiness. Don’t just stick to old habits.

Turn Off the Computer, and Do Something Memorable with Your Friends Today
How does this all apply to our shooting hobby? Well, if (like me) you are middle-aged (or older), go have some fun this weekend! Load up your rifle and get to the range. Don’t put off doing the things that make you happy. Call those old buddies you may not have seen in a long time. Renew friendships. Get out into nature. And start figuring out how you can live your dreams. As the saying goes, “Time waits for no man”.


*This is based on 2020 World Health Organization Data for all males. One of our readers pointed out that the numbers actually work out better than this, because once a man survives to later life, men of his surviving age cohort enjoy a projected lifespan longer than the average projected lifespan from birth. For example, using Social Security Administration (SSA) data, an American man born exactly 60 years ago, has a calculated average life expectancy of 23 years… meaning he would live to age 83, on average. CLICK HERE to see SSA-predicted longevity based on your birthdate.

lifespan life expectancy weekends months years


Practicing What I Preach…

Next week this Editor will NOT be sitting in front of a computer. Instead I will be taking a trip up California Highway One, one of the most scenic roads in America. I’ll be aboard my 20-year-old Honda ST1100, a machine that has carried me to many memorable places. I honestly don’t know how many more years I can still ride. But while I can, I will — and appreciate every minute of the adventure.

carpe diem live your dream road trip california coast highway one
carpe diem live your dream road trip california coast highway one
carpe diem live your dream road trip california coast highway one
Photos by Editor, July 2018