The Measure of a Man

birthdaycakeToday I turn 40 years old.  This is a seemingly important milestone for many people.  I’m not really feeling it though.  The number is almost a non-factor for me.  My childhood friend, Lia Fritz, was the first person who made me think deeply about how age worked.  She was born on February 29th and would state that she was 3 years old when she was 12 and so on.  Although she was only joking, it started me thinking.  What if we changed the measurement of age?  It makes little sense to only measure life by years.  On that scale of measurement, my life is on even terms with anyone else born December 7th, 1975.  Maybe life isn’t best measured in years.

Some systems of measurement lend themselves to easy conversion.  A 100 meter race can simply be changed to a 109.361 yard race.  It seems strange to make it a 1/16 of a mile race but it’s better than 1/420 of a marathon.  By comparison the 100 meter run seems minuscule when measured by marathons.  These conversions give a perspective that the perception of the magnitude of something can be influenced by how it is measured.  There are many people who have lived for a many years but those years were seemingly empty.  What is the right metric for measuring the life of a man?

There are so many metrics that could be used to measure a life.  If my life were measured in economic terms from an American perspective, I’ve lived a very average life.  In economic terms of an Ecuadorian, I’m doing very well.  If measured by miles, I’ve traveled to six foreign countries and visited over half of our United States.  My life could be viewed as very full.  If measured by the number of Grateful Dead concerts that I’ve attended, then I’ve not lived at all.  With so many metrics to choose, it is important to choose wisely with something that represents our purpose on this planet.

For me personally, I measure my life by the people that I’ve been able to help.  It may seem like a random way to measure a life and in many ways it is almost immeasurable.  Those limitations to my system do not bother me in the slightest.  It makes me more comfortable than the idea of my existence being reduced to the number of years that I’ve been alive.  One may be more exact than the other but my metric is in line with my life’s purpose and actually propels me forward toward better experiences.   Having more time is not particularly a desirable commodity unless it is being used for something worthwhile.

Today may not be your calendar birthday but it may be a new opportunity to measure your life in a way that means something to you.  So go into the world today with the purpose of identifying how you measure your life and pursue it.  Happy Birthday to you!


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