I know now for sure that I won’t die in my childhood, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and early sixties. What a waste of journey time, all those hours spent contemplating cancer, stroke, heart attack, plane crashes, AIDS, Bird Flu, whole life insurance. A man of 64 has an average life expectancy of 18 years, a 50% more than the average time spent by convicts on death row in the US – 12 years.
Much seems to have happened but at the time it was just moments of the day. I was blown up once, but the explosion did a mysterious stretching thing with time, the parts never added up to the whole, I had to read it in the newspapers to experience the scale of it, even when the blood poured it did so glacially.
As a child of 8, learning history, nearly all the past seemed an incomprehensible distance. The Romans, AD 100 were near infinity. Now from the perspective of my own lifetime of 66 years, I have a graspable unit of time. I think of a date, the Copernican Revolution of 1543 for example and divide the interval, 468 years by units of my lifetime. The result – an entirely comprehensible 7 times. For my father in law who reached 92 – it was a just 5 lifetimes. 1066 is a stretch, but just about comprehensible at 14 times (10 for father-in-law).
Which leads me to how the 14.6 billion year age of the universe is now approaching comprehensibility as a result of growing familiararity with Sovereign debt numbers - the Italian national debt. 1.9€ trillion.
The debt number is 130 x larger.