14,178 Days

On our roadtrip this week Carla and I binge-listened to S-town, the latest podcast from the team behind Serial and This American Life. It was a fascinating listen and a wonderful lesson in empathy. As we discovered more information about the show’s cranky protagonist John B he became someone we could relate to and sympathise with. It’s a fine reminder that someone’s words and behaviour make a lot more sense once you understand the experiences and worldview behind them.


John authored a number of manifestos, including “Worthwhile Life Defined.” In it he breaks down how much meaningful time there is in one life. He estimates “the undistinguished life of an industrialised man in an industrialised nation” as 68 years or approximately 25,000 days and then begins to subtract time spent sleeping. working, commuting, engaged in routine family time and even allows time for aged convalescence to estimate that the average person secures only 4,500 days to work on their life’s mission.


Kevin Kelly has talked about his countdown clock, designed to keep him focused on how best to use the time he has left.


I used an actuarial table to learn that when I turn 43 in June I’ll statistically have 38.68 years left in me. Doing the sums, I’ve got roughly 14,178 days to go.


While that seems a lot, the numbers are a lot more sobering as you break them down.


If you’re anything like me, you have a slew of projects you plan to execute…some day. How many of our remaining days will we let slip by before we turn pro and begin working on these projects instead of waiting to be ‘ready’?
14,178 is a lot of days if I treat them all with the value they deserve. It’s my choice when I wake up each morning whether this will be an undistinguished day or whether it will contribute some significance to my “Worthwhile Life.”

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