2 min read

2000 weeks. If I'm lucky.

2000 weeks. If I'm lucky.
Photo by Nathan Dumlao / Unsplash

That's a reasonable assumption of how much time I have left on this planet.

14,000ish days.

With an average life expectancy of eighty years for a Canadian man, and with my big 4-0 birthday the next one in the queue...well, the math is pretty straightforward.

What's less straightforward is what to do with those days and weeks.

And I don't always have the answer, but I do have a few things that I definitely won't be doing with the time I have left.

#1 - Numbing the existential anxiety with surface level, short-term pleasures that distract from what is truly meaningful.

I logged into Facebook the other day after a couple of weeks (months?) vacation. You know what I missed?

You're right! Nothing.

Had a post get lots of likes on LinkedIn the other week. You know what changed?

Also nothing!

Turns out that chasing arbitrary life-points in the form of likes, retweets and emoji's on the internet, in a game designed by Silicon Valley billionaires to capture and monetize your attention for selling to advertisers to continue making billions... well, it's less meaningful than other pursuits.

#2 - Dwell on the meaning of life - mine in particular. The other side of the existential anxiety spectrum, going from numbing or distracting to getting stuck and overwhelmed in life's biggest questions - who am I, and why am I here?

There's only so much navel-gazing you can do before the relative unimportance of eighty years spent on a speck of dust in a universe that is billions of years old becomes crystal clear (and a little - or a lot - depressing).

Somewhere between the two extremes is a sweet spot.

A place where you find meaning in a pickup game of basketball with your five year old on the driveway in the few minutes between running an errand and making dinner.

Or listen to a great podcast, read a though-provoking book or walk to the coffee shop on a sunny Thursday afternoon with your wife.

Or laugh as your dogs play yet another round of the "who's going to parade around the house with a ball in their mouth, taunting the other?" game.

What I won't be doing (or, more accurately, what I'm going to try and do less and less of) is numbing or distracting myself - or dwelling on impossible questions - because there is no meaning to life.

There are meanings. Many of them. Plural.

And not only are they to be found in every moment, but we have the rare gift (and, I suppose, curse) in that we can make our own meanings as we go.

And when you realize that, you realize how powerful you are, and how much impact you can make in the cosmic blink of an eye that you're here for.

And how meaningless the numbing - escaping - avoiding - distracting nature of most of our online entertainment and engagements are.

I'm about halfway through my 4000 weeks... if I'm lucky.

You've used up a chunk of yours, too.

And there's no time like the present to reflect on what that really means.

These musings inspired by a couple of recent listens and reads.

  1. 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman. I'm about halfway through it, because it's one of those books to be savoured and reflected on as it's read.
  2. Stolen Focus by Johann Hari. I'm a big fan of his other two works (Chasing the Scream and Lost Connections, on addiction and depression respectively).
  3. This podcast of Ezra Klein and C. Thi Nguyen discussing the gamification of everyday life.