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Dare to Be 100: Age Test

01/07/2014 04:42 pm ET | Updated Mar 09, 2014

The legendary baseball pitcher Satchel Paige is credited with crafting the immortal question, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?" In this he captured the very real fact that the calendar is a nearly worthless guide to know how old you are. How old you are is measured not by when you were born, but by what you do. Some people are old at 50. Others are young at 90. Why?

Satchel's query is susceptible to analysis. I proposed an Age Test in my book Dare to Be 100. (1) It proceeds as follows:

If who you are is what you do, it is necessary to survey what you are doing. Just what does your body do? Fundamentally it does three things: it moves, it thinks and it senses.

So the test proceeds, if you walk a mile a day you get one point, if you read a book you get one, if you spark your senses, sight, hearing, taste, smell, feeling you get a point. The repertoire of our sense experience available is vast. Perhaps, if you make love, you get two points. In the average day, therefore, there are three points available, or twenty one points per week, or a hundred per year.

So far, simple. But life is much more than what the body does. It seeks meaning. Everyone must find his or her personal sense of meaning. For me, my granddaddy Bortz's exhortation "Go make yourself necessary" is about as good a capture as I am capable.

So the test proceeds. In addition to the above three points per day you get two more points for being necessary or a five-point day, 35-point week or 116-point year.

In my book, Dare to be 100, I created a table based on this accounting system:
Points per week, chance of living to 100, percentage likelihood of 100, rate of aging:
0-5 you are dead now -- 0 gone
6-12 you'll be lucky to make another 10 -- 1 sinking fast
13-19 slim; 70 is a more likely goal -- 5 modest down drift
20-25 you've got a chance -- 20 average
25-30 a long full life is likely -- 60 gains offset losses
31-34 your daily daring predicts success -- 90 slight
35 a sure bet (you seize all your moments) -- 100 minimal

The person who dies with the most points wins.

I commend this Age Test to you for this new year and those many yet to follow.

Reference
1) Bortz,W. DARE TO BE 100 1996 Simon Schuster New York