775: Making the Most of the Time We Have

775. This number has been bouncing around in my head for a bit. Making sense of this number will take some explaining so let’s get to it.

I am 46 years old. Based on the information I could find doing a quick internet search, I have 31 years left to live. (The life expectancy for a male in the United States is 77.28 years.) I could die tomorrow. Or I could live until I am 100, though I find that to be laughably improbable. As I get older, and the end point draws near, I have started the sometimes-uncomfortable task of evaluating how I spend my time. I want to use my time well; productively and passionately. I need my remaining 31 years to be filled with purpose, bringing glory and joy to my Creator. 775 is an essential part of this.

775 is just one small part of a much bigger perspective.

When I was younger, in my early teens, I was reading “The Chronicles of Narnia”. My dad had read the series to me and my brothers a few times when we were younger, but I loved the stories so much I wanted to read them for myself. This particular time was probably my second personal reading.

I distinctly remember finishing “The Silver Chair” one night and starting “The Horse and His Boy” first thing the next morning. Once I started, I had no desire to do anything else that day, other than quick bathroom and snack breaks. It’s not a long book, so this is not meant to be some great accomplishment, but I read the entire book that day. I was so captivated and enthralled; I could not put the book down. Over 30 years later, I still remember that day with a sense of pride and fondness. And to be perfectly honest, a little disappointment in myself.

I’m not sure what happened to that boy. I still read regularly, but over the years, my passion and appetite for books has waned. I devote far less time to the daily discipline of reading than I should. I turn to my phone or my television much more quickly these days. 775 is a way for me to focus my attention on pursuits with more lasting value than social media or mindless TV watching.

I’ve done the math and if I want to re-prioritize valuable disciplines, values, and experiences, I have limited time in which to do them. If I read 25 books a year for my remaining 31 years, I have 775 books left to read. At one point in my life, 25 books a year would have been a sad joke. I was reading double that, at the minimum. These days, 25 is probably a bit of a challenge. I have work to do. But that is where the fun is had, and the decisions get more difficult.

775 represents a limited commodity.

To be clear, this isn’t all about how many books I have left to read, though that was the impetus for this particular thought experiment. 775 is not just about lining up that exact number of books and checking them off one by one. To reach this goal, I could easily read nothing but disposable, cotton-candy-like page turners. It can’t just be about the number. 775 has to be more than that.

To further complicate matters, I love to re-read books. I’ve read “The Lord of the Rings” at least 20 times in my life. I’ve read Robert Jordan’s gargantuan “Wheel of Time” series 4 times all the way through. (For those keeping score at home, that is 11,898 pages.) To get to 775, I don’t want to give up reading some of my favorites.

My world would be much poorer if I never return to Narnia. I would be much less fulfilled if I never get to spend time with the Wingfeathers again. Yet, there are so many incredible books and stories that I have never read, and I want to do everything in my power to not miss out on them. 775 is a limited commodity. If I waste my time on frivolous and empty pursuits, that number shrinks, and I will be deprived of some truly wonderful experiences.

The universal applicability of 775

Before I get too lost in the weeds of what books I want to read over the next 31 years, let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Here at Rambling Ever On, we strive to write with applicability. We don’t want to spend all of our time naval gazing and focusing only on ourselves at the expense of a broader, more universal relevance. What does 775 mean to anyone besides me? What should you take away from this epiphany I’ve had?

In the classic C.S. Lewis book, “The Screwtape Letters”, senior demon, Screwtape, in a series of letters to his young nephew demon, Wormwood, gives advice on how to best tempt his human subject. In one particular letter, Screwtape deals with distractions. Screwtape quotes one of his own human subjects, who upon his death said, “I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.”

As I wrote earlier, 775 is about so much more than how many books I want to read before I die. It’s a reprioritization. An intentional focus on the things that really matter – that beautiful and spiritually rewarding blend of what we ought and like to do. Each of us has a finite number of days. We cannot know the day or hour of our final breath. The time we have left is a gift. Let it not be said of us that we wasted this precious gift with trivialities and empty pursuits. Whether that means you set goals for how many books you want to read before you die is completely up to you.

775 is my starting point. It’s bringing into focus how often I mindlessly go through my day. That has to change.

775 makes the end point feel dramatically closer than it ever has before, though not in a morbid way. The quantifiable nature of it, the sheer specificity of 775 brought things into stark clarity. My days are numbered so if I want to live life to the fullest, I have no choice but to be determined and focused. I don’t believe this means I need to become an obsessive, crazy scientist sort of planner, to ensure I don’t miss out on anything going forward. But planning, forethought, and clear mindedness are essential if this new way of thinking is going to stick.

“What to do with the time that is given to us.”

In “The Lord of the Rings”, Frodo Baggins, when faced with the crushing weight of responsibility that has been placed on his shoulders, confesses to Gandalf the wizard, “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.” Gandalf replies with gentle patience but also with a wisdom that runs deeper than a simple fantasy story. “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” For me, 775 is part of that deciding. While my situation is nowhere near as dire or dangerous as Frodo’s, Gandalf’s advice is no less powerful for my life.

The clock is ticking. We do not know what tomorrow will bring. We are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.1 My days are numbered, and it is essential that I do not waste them. 775 is but one way for me to redeem the time2 so that I can present to my Creator a heart of wisdom.3 This time, however much I have left, is a gift that has been entrusted to me. I hope and pray that I do not waste it.

So, what book should I read next?

  1. James 4:14
  2. Ephesians 5:16
  3. Psalm 90:12
Phill Lytle
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Phill Lytle

Phill Lytle loves Jesus, his wife, his kids, his family, his friends, his church, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, 80s rock, the Tennessee Titans, Brandon Sanderson books, Whiteheart, Band of Brothers, Thai food, the Nashville Predators, music, books, movies, TV, writing, pizza, vacation...

2 thoughts on “775: Making the Most of the Time We Have

  • March 1, 2024 at 3:25 pm

    So challenging, even to a 73 year old. Psalm 90:12


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