Driving along the highway the other day, I noticed the title of this post plastered across a billboard in massive, fiery red, letters. The play on the old cliche was clever, feisty, and attention-getting. Sally and I both laughed out loud, agreeing that we preferred good tacos and that Torchy’s Tacos were pretty good. Score one for the marketing folks for doing something memorable amid the mind-numbing tsunami of messaging washing over us every day.
The catchy billboard has been rolling around in the my head for a few days, though I must confess that it has not pushed me toward its sponsor or elicited a desire for tacos. At least not yet. However, it has made me think about its message.
The underlying message of the cliche is that, because life is short, we shouldn’t put up with anything less than the best or, at the very least, what we desire. In this sense, life is too short for anything that does not satisfy us, bring us joy, or meet our expectations. Life is too short for: bad service, bland food, boring trips, uninspiring books, or annoying people.
Is Life Too Short?
Life expectancy in the United States for men is about 74 years old and for women, nearly 80 years. Many are taken “before their time” which is one way of describing the ending of life when there is still much potential for living. We might argue that “too short” means living fewer years than than “life expectancy.” It is likely that those reading this have known people who lived a long life and those for whom life was too short. Both are relative definitions set by those of us who remain, based on our own perspective.
How long is 74 years? 888 months. 27,010 days. 648,240 hours. For those who make it to 80, they get an additional 2190 days. At 54 years old, I’ve lived 19,710 days. To my grandchildren, that looks like forever. As I consider it, it is a long time.
By these numbers, it seems that even an average lifespan is a long time. A friend recently told me that his grandmother was 102 years old – 37,230 days. That is a lot of life, and potentially, many, many tacos.
Quality and Quantity
Duration is one measure of life as it reflects how much living one has received. But how much of what? We have many measures of “quality of life.” Quality of life measures our general well-being. The World Health Organization defines Quality of Life (QoL) by the following indicators:
- physical and mental health
- religious beliefs
In this sense, quality indicates how well the duration of the life we’ve been given has been lived. Generally speaking, we define quality of life by how “good” we’re doing in each of the indicators above. A good life has all of these things in abundance. In other words, not all life is equal – some of the life we’re given is better than other life we’re given.
If not all life is equal and some life is better than other life, the conclusion would be that life is, in fact, too short to endure sh***y tacos. But that begs the question, how do I know the difference unless I’ve had both? Of course, we can’t know the difference unless we’ve had both.
Beyond our tacos, where else do we see this dynamic? Everywhere else. We cannot know more without knowing less. We cannot know right without knowing wrong. We cannot know good without knowing bad. We cannot know ease without knowing struggle. We cannot know hope without knowing despair. We cannot know life without knowing death.
Ultimately, we realize that, if we’re lucky, life is actually too long to not have sh***y tacos. Thank God for that.