Life is not like water. Things in life don’t
necessarily flow over the shortest possible route.
Haruki Murakami, 1Q84.
I’m going to die on December 15 2046. I don’t have any additional details. I don’t know if it will happen after a long agony or if it’ll be unexpected and quick, I don’t know if an accident will cause it or if it’ll be the predictable result of a persistent illness. I don’t know if by then I’ll thankfully greet death, or if, terrified, I’ll fight till my last breath. I just know that my last day will be the third Thursday of December of that year: I am going to die at 81, nine days before my birthday.
I didn’t get this prophecy from an old palm reader nor from tarot guru. I discard ornithomancy because all birds seem silly and unreliable to me. I’ve never trusted mirrors, so I would never listen to omens obtained through catoptromancy. I know that some people search for signs in the wrinkles of their own foreheads -metoposcopy-, in the moon -selenemancy-, in the movements of the smoke after a fire -capnomancy-, in fingernails – onychomancy-, in fish guts –ichthyomancy-, and in stones – lithomancy-: I, however, do not share any of these beliefs. And even when I’ve spent more than one night snooping into the fire flames searching for some augury, I don’t actually give that much credit to pyromancy. So which was the divination method that led me to the exact date of my death?
Last January, I wrote an article in where I made fun of the magical way of thinking of the OECD. I was referring to, specifically, to the predictions that this organization had for Mexico: “reforms will exploit all of the country’s potential”, good news, great news! I proposed a neologism that perfectly portrayed the core of these predictions: datamancy, divination from data, specially numbers and statistics. Now, contrasting with the failed datamancy used by the OECD, I know that I have 30.9 years of life left, and all thanks to a wonderful premonitory gadget: population.io, a web development designed by Wolfgang Fengler, K.C. Samir and Benedikt Grob. The digital oracle only requires three personal data–date of birth, nationality and gender- to discover in an instant, according to the datamancy, the exact date of your death. In my case, the prediction not only revealed that I’ve already lives 61% of my life, it also told me how am I located in terms of my peers…
There are 84.17 million people in the planet that have my age, 51; and just in Mexico around 1.28 million. I would be a benefit from a restored gerontocracy: eight out of every ten people in the world is younger than me; in Mexico, I am older than 84% of the population. It’s a fact, this country is filled with people younger than me: 104.5 million. Meanwhile only 21.57 million are older than me. Do you have any idea how many people share your birthday? And out of them, how many share your age as well? In my case, the answer is 230,541. And about 9,605 men and women were born not only on the same date as I, but at the same hour too. Just in Mexico, I shared a birth date with 3,529 boys and girls. A small number compared to the babies who cried for the first time in China on that same December 24 1964: 60,063, in India around 36,042 and in the United States 12,031. I share birth date with 23 people from Luxembourg and with 685 from Chile. Even when every day there is less chance to keep your head in place, the life expectancy of Mexicans remains above the global average. If instead of being born in Mexico I’d encounter the bad luck of doing so in the Central African Republic, I would only have 21.7 years left. And so, I still gain from being neighbor to American soil, population.io kindly informs me: “ We estimate that you’ll live until April 9 2042, if you are an average citizen of the world”, this means that my life expectancy would be reduced by 4 years. Anyway, the dice were loaded from the start but we still need to play these numbers with courage. I’ll keep one fact that I liked: it is 13.5% probable that I’ll reach 100 years before I die… and those are good odds!