The picture for this month’s blog is of my
wife, Paula, and our dog, Rayne. As I entered the room and saw them
lying on the floor together, I was moved by the emotion of the
scene and snapped this picture. Rayne is getting up there in years
and I’ve been trying not to think about the time he’ll no longer be
with us. It’s moments like these that give me cause to stop and
reflect on life.
As Forest Gump said, “Life is like a box of
chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” I’ve been very
fortunate during my life. When I take time to reflect on the past,
I usually begin with thoughts of my family, my career, so many
wonderful friends, life with Paula, and the many adventures I’ve
had. Of course, adventures aren’t always as glorious as they become
when you tell stories about them years later.
As my mind begins to wander, my thoughts turn
toward the sort of things about life that just strike me as
Did you know there are nearly twice as many
open job positions in this country as there are unemployed people?
I just heard that on the news this morning. I suppose there are all
kinds of details in that statistic that one should take into
consideration before drawing any conclusions, but… “hmm”.
In a recent effort to pull together a
marketing plan for my next book, The Five Watches: An Accident
of Time, I conducted a search for statistics about books,
publishing, and readers. Some of the data surprised me.
More than half of adults in the United States
haven’t read a full book in over a year, and 22 percent of adults
haven’t read a book in over 3 years — and nearly 11 percent
haven't read a book in more than 10 years! It dawned on me that at
least 50 percent of the people I know personally apparently fit
into one of these statistical categories. If everybody I knew
bought my books, I would have sold a whole lot more of them. But I
don’t take this personally. There are a lot of people who just
don’t read these days. “Hmm”.
I also discovered that fewer young people are
reading, and those who do are reading half the number of book of
older generations. This statistic doesn’t really surprise me
though. Did you know that 69 percent of children aged 2 to 5 can
use a computer mouse, but a mere 11 percent of children in this
same age group can tie their shoes?
Maybe you heard about the kid who recently
saved a whole school bus load of children when he noticed the
driver was having some kind of medical emergency. He saw that the
bus was veering off the road and ran up to turn the wheel and step
on the brake, yelling back to others on the bus, “Someone call
911.” He was the only kid on the bus not totally preoccupied with
their cell phones. (He wasn’t allowed to have one yet.)
You see? That’s the problem. People are
addicted to their electronic devices. It makes me wonder why
authors are still writing and publishing so many books every
year—around 4 million! Maybe this is part of the reason the average
page count of “best seller” books has dropped from 437 to 386 in
the last 10 years. “Hmm.”
Did you know that 99 percent of all the
species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct? Yeah, and 43
percent of pilots have admitted to falling asleep while flying.
“Hmm!” Less than 10 percent of Americans don’t wear seatbelts and
they account for 51 percent of the car related fatalities. “Hmm?”
On the bright side, people have a far greater chance of dying from
a falling coconut than by a shark attack (the exact stats on this
were not available at the time of this writing).
Here’s something to think about: if you made
$295,000 every single day since the birth of Christ, you still
wouldn’t be as wealthy as Elon Musk. I tried to figure out what
that amount would be but my calculator doesn't hold that many
numbers. That's amazing, but
you have to take into account that, according to Google, 60 percent
of people can’t get through a 10-minute conversation without lying,
AND that 73.6 percent of all statistics are made up. (Actually,
that statistic is made up as well.) As fellow novelist, Mark Twain,
once said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and
“Hmm.” You see what can happen when you start
reflecting on life? It gets statistically very complicated.
One of the things that got me reflecting on
life was signing up with Coastal Bay Wealth Management here in New
Port Richey. Our very good friends own the business, and I liked
the sound of “wealth management”. We were assured that one
does not need to be as financially wealthy as Elon Musk in order to
manage whatever wealth you might have. Part of this process
requires you to define income, costs, goals, needs, wants, and a
bunch of other stuff that takes forever to figure out.
As you go through all this organization and
planning, you’re compelled to confront and consider some relatively
stark statistics, including your estimated lifespan. “Hmm.” Knowing
approximately when you’re going to die allows you to figure out how
to spend all your money before you go. Of course, you must also
plan for the contingency of needing to keep enough money to pay for
These are things that I didn’t spend a lot of
time thinking about before we began the "wealth management"
process. I’ve decided that I’ll be glad when we’re finished
figuring everything out so I don’t have to think about it anymore.
Economic statistics was never one of my strong suits, and I enjoy
focusing on living each day as it comes—one day at a time.