5,000 Friday Nights

It was a Friday night. The band was riffing on a J.J. Cale tune when Peter—one of the craziest characters I’ve ever met—leaned over his Stella and said, “Stetson did the math. You only get 5,000 Friday nights in your life. Think about that.” Then he howled and turned back to watch the girls dancing in front of the band.

This was about two and a half month ago and I’m still thinking about it.

It didn’t sound right. So, I did the math, and yes, it’s true—if you until you live until your 96th birthday, you will experience just around 5,000 Friday nights.

However, on average, we don’t live that long. In the United States, the average life expectancy is 78.4 years, so it’s actually closer to 4,000 Friday nights. Then, if you factor in your early childhood years and figure that your later years will be marked by some type of dementia that affects your awareness, you really only have about 3,000 prime, fully-conscious Friday nights.

It seems so finite.

Peter’s a party guy, so I think his point was about living it up, going for broke, and making sure you have a rip-roaring good time every Friday night. And while I don’t disagree, I started thinking about Sunday mornings, Saturday afternoons, Monday mornings, and all the moments in-between.

I started thinking about how short life seems in these terms. It makes me think about all that I’ve experienced and accomplished, and everything I want to experience and accomplish before I die and they put me in the cold, hard ground.

It’s been said, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by every moment that takes your breath away.”

At first, this all seems like a wake up call. A carpe diem cliche. A plea to stop wasting time and live life to the fullest. Be productive. Be proactive. Run, don’t walk. Get as much in while you can. There are only so many books we can read, only so many conversations we can have, only so many kisses we can steal, only so many sunrises, and only so many moments that take our breath away.

When I think about things this way, I feel depressed, lost, and uncertain. Have a made good decisions? Have I wasted too much time? Am I where I should be? Have a lived a full life? Will I in the future?

Then I remember: You can’t measure life that way—not as a sum of total moments or a sum of our greatest moments. Life is just the present moment. Life is lived in the “now” – this moment, right now, just goes on your entire life. What’s past is past and the future never arrives until you’re already there.

The key is to be aware. Fully aware of the present moment. Right now. As you finish reading this, take a moment to just be where you are. Look at the space you’re in. Listen to the sounds around you. Observe the people and objects around you. Feel life coursing through you. Don’t think about it. Feel it.

If you can do that, you won’t care how many Friday nights you have left.


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