There is a scene from the movie “The Bucket List” in which two terminally ill friends, played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, spend their final living moments jumping from airplanes, drag racing and touring Egyptian pyramids.
I’m not sure if I’d follow suit, but after learning about a new watch, the Tikker, that attempts to predict life spans, it made me wonder: what would I do differently if I knew the day and hour my ticker might stop?
Most likely, I’d catch up with the people I’ve lost contact with and spend more time with my family.
My mother-in-law, Anna Mae, who battled lymphoma leukemia for two years, recently succumbed to the disease, but not before drawing even closer to her children, grandchildren, family and to her faith. Always quick to tell us “I love you,” her bucket list was probably more about sharing a warm hug and dispensing positive words of encouragement and wisdom to us all.
The way the Tikker works is that the wearer fills out a medical questionnaire, deducts his or her current age from the results and the watch begins the countdown from years to seconds. The creator, Fredrik Colting, in the same breath, calls it a “death watch” and a “happiness watch.”
“I think that if we were more aware of our expiration, I’m sure we’d make better choices while we are alive,” he said in information about the new product.
I posed the question of life and death to about a half dozen patrons at the Main Library last week.
What would you do differently if you knew you had only a short time to live, and would you wear a watch that could predict your death?
Some of those I asked thought it sounded like a good idea, including a man who said he’d donate his organs. Others had their reservations.
Kevin Guillard agreed and disagreed.
“No way,” he said. “That takes out all of the fun. If you know when you’re going to die, then you’re not going to put your all into it.”
On the other hand, Guillard said knowing his lifespan would inspire him to get his business dealings in order quicker.
Claude Carter is reluctant about anything that would predict his lifespan.
“I wouldn’t want to know. I’d be too stressed then,” he said.
If he knew he had a short time to live, however, there are a few extra things he’d like to do.
“I’d go skydiving,” he said, “or go to Japan and travel as much as I could with my family.”
Josh Purtee said he would wear the watch.
“If I had a short time to live, I would donate my organs,” he commented.
Franklin Carter said he would “spend the rest of my days in church, spend more time with my family and try to make somebody else’s life a little better before I lose my life.”
Kristy Andrus described her reservations about the watch.
“I don’t think I’d want to know. I’d prefer to live life to the fullest. When my time comes, then that’s OK. But if I know, it might influence my activities and the things I do. The watch would provide too much information,” Andrus said.
I think the watch is an ingenious conversational piece. Death is not a topic most people want to discuss.
But, put in the context of wearing a watch that ticks down our every waking minute, it makes it a bit more interesting to think about, wonder about and to talk about how we might best spend our lives.
Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.