Competing with Michael Jackson

I’ve been alive 18,974 days, or at least in an hour and fourteen minutes, I will have been.

That’s 411 more days than Michael Jackson lived. And 325 days less than Grace Kelly lived and 802 days less than Osama bin Laden did.

They are my closest competition among the very famous. If I set my search parameters to include only those of “medium” fame, I can compete with serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who has outlived me by 56 days as of my birthday today. But he got executed, and I don’t think I will, so I think ultimately I’ll beat him.

But really, you never know.

I’ve learned all this from a handy little calculator on a website called “Dead or Alive” that helps you find out if famous people are still living or have in fact slipped the surly bonds of earth. That way if you’re wondering whether to try to get tickets for someone’s next show, you can find out if they are indeed still performing live.

This site has all sorts of search features. You can of course do alphabetical searches and search for those who died under 30 or made it to 100. You can search by gender or by date of death (or birth, actually, which seems irrelevant here). My favorite sections are the “dead or alive quizzes” and the area wherein you can search by cause of death (it might come in handy to know all the famous folks who have died of congenital bowel conditions or — for more drama — spacecraft accidents. It’s no shock, most of that crowd were known for space exploration!  You can also spend hours taking quizzes to put people in order by death date or guessing if people are alive or dead; it’s quite a diversion.

All sick humor aside, how long are we each going to live? And as poet Mary Oliver says at the end of her beautiful poem, The Summer Day:

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?


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