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Teach Us To Number Our Days
by Tom Goodman
January 15, 2014

There's a new wrist watch that will calculate when you're likely to die and then display that date on the dial.  The creators say they designed it "to remind you to make most of your life, and most importantly, to be happy."

It's called Tikker.  Get it?

Just send $59 along with a questionnaire about your health habits, risk factors, and age, and a Tikker can be customized to your demise.

"It's not an entirely bizarre idea," wrote Olga Khazan, who reported on the device for The Atlantic.  "We tend to value things that are scarce, and death is, after all, a scarcity of life.  Thinking about death can make us appreciate life more, and it can also make us into better people."

Actually, there's some truth there.  According to a study reported in Fast Company, thinking about money makes you less ethical while thinking about time makes you more ethical.  Researchers surmise it has to do with considering your limited time and how you'll be regarded as you leave this earth.

Maybe that's why Moses didn't ask God, "Teach us to number our dollars" but rather, "Teach us to number our days." (Psalm 90)

Of course, Moses wasn't asking to know the day of his death (sorry, Tikker).  Instead, he was wanting God's help so that the fact of his death would sink in.

Depressing?  Moses didn't think so.  Instead, his prayer to God means he recognized his desperate need of such information.

You need that information, too.

The most sobering thing I've ever done was to write my own eulogy.  For a college class, I was assigned to write a summary of my life.  It had a remarkably clarifying effect, at the age of 19, to write about myself in the past tense -- and then to put a period at the end of the last sentence describing my life.

Of course, the eulogy was nothing more than a thought experiment.  And the future date on the Tikker is nothing more than an actuarial guess.

In other words, the date of your death cannot be know.  The fact of it, though?  That's what needs to settle deep into our souls.  And only then can we start the hard work of clarifying our priorities and aligning our choices accordingly.

Let's get to that good work.  Tick tock, people.


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