They say that life begins at 40, which is weird because sometimes it feels like it ended at 35. Raising a child and working opposite shifts to your wife for five years will do that to you.
"You want to go for a bike ride? How about three Saturdays from now at six in the morning? No? How's August looking? Uh-huh... How about I call you in seven years when my daughter is old enough to be left at home alone? Okay, see you then..."
I'm not that worried about the big one, which is strange because turning 40 is exactly the kind of thing that would usually keep me up nights.
And while my life meter may be half full, or half empty depending on how pessimistic I'm feeling, I've also realized in the last few years that age doesn't mean anything — 40 really is just another number these days and less consequential than it used to be. There are 60 year-olds in Whistler that are fitter and faster than I am, and 80-year-olds that climb mountains and ski powder. Getting old doesn't have to suck.
Canadian men born in 1973 will have an average life expectancy of just over 69, according to Statistics Canada. However, those numbers are skewed by premature deaths that are usually the result of factors like accidents, disease and violence. If you can avoid those misfortunes then the average lifespan is actually much longer.
Statistics are exactly the right context to think about these things. A human lifespan is just a long table of multiplied odds and probabilities with a few unknown variables thrown in, and a 100 per cent likelihood of death at the end of the bell curve. Where the curve terminates can depend greatly on how you live your life, as well as things like genetics, economics, geography, availability of health care, scientific and medical research, your support network of family and friends, and the state of the world in general.
British Columbians have the longest lifespans in Canada by a year or so, probably because of our outdoorsy lifestyles and the fact we get most of our electricity from water instead of coal. Men born from 2007 to 2009 are expected to live to an average age of 80, while women — my daughter included — are expected to live to 84.
That's a difference of more than 10 years in less than half a century, which is nothing short of incredible. Medical science deserves a lot of the credit, as do a few courageous politicians and our evolution into a healthier society in general. Remember, seatbelts weren't exactly mandatory in the backseat when I was a child and gasoline contained lead until the late '80s. When someone was choking you were supposed on pound on their backs. And less than 10 years ago it was still okay to smoke indoors at bars and restaurants, as well as on airplanes.