Monday, December 4, 2023


A sobering metaphor, a sweet story, and a vision of the time we have left

Today, a post that I wrote on Facebook five years ago came up. It tears at my heartstrings and it still holds true. This was the post:

“I watched a video the other day where they used a tape measure to encourage people to follow their dreams. Using a life expectancy chart he pulled the tape out to his current age in inches, marking the place with his forefinger and thumb. He then pulled the tape measure out to his life expectancy and marked that number. Holding the tape measure up he highlighted the long time he has lived and the little time left.

“I pulled out a tape measure and did the same. While sobering, the moral of following your dreams in the time left rang loud and clear. We will follow our dreams.

“The last son has left. All visiting grandchildren are back home with their moms. The oldest granddaughter moved out last week and returned to college. We are truly, finally empty nesters.

Photo credit Nanci Dixon

“After 16 years of living in this house, raising the children through teenagers and young adults, always the table lamp in the hallway burned. Chasing away the shadows of the dark in a strange new house, lighting the way, welcoming them home. When they were very young, returning from friends, I would be waiting up, keeping an eagle eye on my watch and the front door. Later, when they were older, I was still waiting, just snoozing in my recliner. The lamp still burned. It has shone for them as young adults – they came and went while we soundly slept. The light has burned.

“Last night, I turned the light off. They are gone, as joyful and bittersweet as that is. They are all gone.

“So we move on. We will follow the dream in the time that is left.

“Putting the house up for sale, storing a few things, selling and giving away most of the stuff of years, taking a deep breath and going for it. The next chapter of our life is life on the road.”

Reading that post again, years later, I can still feel the hope and sadness of turning that light out. Memories of our kids and grandkids growing up flood through. Missing them still tugs. We have now been on the road full-time for five years. We’re still loving it but thinking about the what-ifs and what-when plan B.

It is time to pull out the tape measure again. I went to the Social Security Life expectancy chart to get the sobering reality of where to stop the tape measure now. So little time left compared with the life lived. So once again we will follow our dreams, no matter what time is left. We do not need plan B yet.


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.



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Neal Davis (@guest_217044)
10 months ago

Wonderful essay, Nanci! It certainly highlights your skill as a writer. Thank you for sharing it! I was fortunate to buy several things from the RV Travel bookstore before it was closed. Among them were several DVDs of sessions from Gaylord Maxwell’s Life on Wheels conference. One of them has Gaylord Maxwell illustrating exactly the same thing that you describe: extending a tape measure the number of inches equal to ones life expectancy and then going to the point that is ones current age. The small gap between the two numbers is graphic evidence that time is short in which to pursue all remaining dreams. Thank you for the reminder of the shortness of remaining days, and also of Gaylord Maxwell. I wish that my interest in RVing had begun early enough to have met him.

Last edited 10 months ago by Neal Davis
John S (@guest_217013)
10 months ago

While I understand the premise of this essay, I try to focus on each day as one to live to the fullest rather than pay attention to the possibly short time I have ahead of me. How would you live if you knew the day and moment that you’d die?

Perhaps, Nanci and I are saying the same thing…

Last edited 10 months ago by John S
Judy S (@guest_144781)
2 years ago

One of my go-to expressions has always been, “Life can change in the blink of an eye,” and a big change for me was when my husband died suddenly. Instead of dying along with him I embraced RVing after the grief eased. Best life change ever.

RV Staff
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy S

Sorry to hear about your husband, Judy. But I applaud you for your attitude – Onward and upward! Here’s to many more great years of happy and healthy and fun RVing! Take care. 🙂 –Diane

wanderer (@guest_144713)
2 years ago

Thanks for this good piece. I was led to look up myself and my siblings on the life expectancy calculator. Then again on a ‘Healthy Years Expectancy’ calculator. Very enlightening! Let us make the most of the remaining years, and make them healthy as we can.

Kris & Gary (@guest_144674)
2 years ago

This hits home for us right now. We raised two daughters in a home we all loved. This past summer the oldest daughter bought a house of her own and the younger daughter got married and now lives 900 miles away. We followed our dream also and sold our house four weeks ago. We are leaving next week on our fulltime travel adventure in our 40′ motorhome. It is so bittersweet as one wonderful chapter of life ends and the next exciting chapter begins!

Craig Seitz (@guest_144658)
2 years ago

Great article. My wife and I are in our 50s. Blessed to have been able to retire quite young, I can see the nest being empty soon. One of my favorite songs is Remember When by Alan Jackson. One line, in particular, always gets me..Remember when, the sound of little feet, was the music. We danced week to week….

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