East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

One of the lucky ones

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In three weeks flat I will be 53 years old. And for the first time in… well, in almost 53 years, in the last few weeks I really, really felt old. Systems needing a good check, structural tear and wear, and a general sensation of the end of the line approaching.
I guess it happens, from time to time.

And this morning I found, via the IQ Facebook page, a ling to an interesting web gadget called Life Stats: you dial in your date of birth, and they give you a short animated presentation about how much the world has changed since you first came here.

It was six am, I was taking a pause before starting a new job, and so I decided to play along. It was fun, and a little sad – seeing how the world population increased, and the environment deteriorated, and all that.
And then an animation came up…

And I thought – damn.
I thought about my elementary school class – there was 25 of us.
I was in section S – but there were section T, U and V too.
Twenty classes of 25 kids.
500 people born on my year – and I can now imagine 60 of them are dead.
In fact, I know that two of my elementary school chums died – one, my best friend, in a motorbike accident when he was 24, and another school mate more or less at the same time, for complications due to HIV.
Many others I have lost sight of. Are they still alive?

And of course the statistic is skewed, because that 12% probably takes into account people killed in wars and infection outbreaks – and here in Western Europe we have a good track record, compared to poorer countries.

But still that number gave me pause.
And I thought about the thousands that were born when I was, and are no longer here.
And it makes one feel responsible, in a way – because I am enjoying something so many have lost.
And it also brings a sort of hope, a mildly optimistic vibe – I made it so far, so I’ll weather what’s coming next, too.

Pat yourselves on the shoulder, out there – you are one of the lucky ones.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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