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 28,000 Days  
by Jay Smith
September 15, 2015

(This article from my 15 September 2015 E-News is completely non-philatelic, but has been posted here by popular demand.)

I am an admitted "esoteric music junkie", which to me means that I very much like music from various categories. My interest usually has to do with the music itself, not necessarily the lyrics (if there are any). Two pieces of music can be written 200 years apart but still share the same musical structure, dynamics, characteristics, etc., and still hit, like a thunderbolt, the exact same chord in my brain. If I were not a "philatelic junkie" I would be tempted to get an education in music theory so that I could better understand what I am hearing. Someday I would like to find somebody to help me understand exactly which aspects of a piece of music is triggering the response in my brain, and to put names to those aspects. (Any volunteers?)

While overdosing on watching the 2015 U.S. Open Tennis competition in the last couple weeks, I heard a piece of music by the name of "28,000 Days" written and performed by Alicia Keys. Ms. Keys is enormously talented, but much of her style in the past has not been in my wheelhouse. However, the music of this piece struck me like that proverbial thunderbolt. But, then the lyrics hit me. I was, at first, probably not paying attention to the exact lyrics, but when the phrase "28,000 days" reached my ears, I instantly and instinctively knew what it must mean and the enormous consequences of that concept. It was like being washed over by a tidal wave of thought and emotion.

An Internet search on the meaning of 28,000 days tells us that is the average life span of a human. Well, in itself, the number is so general as to be almost meaningless. Life span of who? Man or woman? American middle aged person or a Syrian child? Rich person or poor person? Actuarial tables are different for the same individual if/when they reach different points in their life span since as each person has managed to survive to this point, etc.

What is much more important is how we choose to spend those proverbial 28,000 days. What do we do with our time, our attention, our energy, our intellect? Do we focus on ourselves or our family or our community or our world? Do we focus on improving the life of one other person or do we strive to find a way to improve the lives of millions of people? Do we stand up and speak up, or do we sit silently and let life happen to us?

Another Internet search found http://www.troyfawkes.com/28000-days/ which points out that we really don't have anywhere near 28,000 days to work with. Roughly quoting... "This is because 7,000 of those days were when we were too young to really do all of the amazing things we wanted in life. Because 7,000 of those days will be when we are too old to jump out of planes and run, laughing and shouting, with our friends. Because for 7,000 of those days we'll be sleeping, or eating, or waiting in line. So really, we have only 7,000 days to live. Today is one of those days, and I don't intend to waste it."

28,000 days seems like a lot. 7,000 days seems to me like a mere blink in time. 7,000 days is a small enough number for me to comprehend; it is small enough to both empower me and scare me to death.

Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford University commencement address includes the statement: "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life...." I recommend Googling on "Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford commencement address" for an incredible read. Just be prepared for your heart to beat faster and you understanding of life to become a little more clear.

A work supposedly attributed to W.H. Murray refers supposedly to one of Goethe's couplets. About 30 years ago, I viewed, in a Wisconsin public library, a large work of calligraphy by Linda Hancock, a local artist. Her work presents Murray's and Goethe's thoughts in a way that just blew me away. I had to own it. Unfortunately, somebody already owned it, but following the message of that piece, I persevered and the owner favored me by selling the piece to me. The piece has hung over my desk ever since. The piece ends with: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."

Whether the number is 28,000 days or 7,000 days or however many days we each have left, it is worth stopping to consider how you want to spend those days. Then go forth and... "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."

Thank you, Ms. Alicia Keys, for reminding us all of this.

PS: A Youtube.com video illustrating, in a very creative way, this general subject was pointed out to me by my wife and partner Bonnie. It's worth a view. It is titled "The Time You Have (In JellyBeans)" and currently can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOksW_NabEk


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