The terrifying concept of finality
Inspiried by watching Kurzgesagt's excellent "What Are You Doing With Your Life? The Tail End" video, I got rethinking of the concept of finality - or more specifically of doing something for the last time.
Doing things for the last time
There are so many things in all of our lives that we will do for the final time - and more often than not, never realise:
- Playing a sport or partaking in a hobby
- Eating a particular food
- Seeing someone
- Giving a friend a hug
- Picking up your son or daughter
Many of these things are insignificant in the grand scheme of life or time, but taking a second to step back and think about it, they can be difficult to reconcile nonetheless.
Recently, there have been multiple explanations, charts or graphs, showcasing the typical time you have spent or will spend with different relationships or in phases of your life. The data is from the 'American Time Use Survey, Our World in Data' so it is based on averages of people in the United States, and obviously, everyone's lives will be unique and different, but it's still an impactful set of insights.
Parents / Children
As a parent, now also to a newly born second son, the idea that 75% of the time we will spend with our kids in our lifetime will be spent by age 12 fills me with terror.
Life changes fast; going from constant connection in the first weeks and months, to several hours a day and weekends, to then less and less as they begin school, attend social or activity classes without you, see their own friends, before eventually moving out and having just having 'visits'. Whenever I remember this statistic is always sharpens my desire to maximise the time with my sons wherever I can.
Several years ago, I saw a clip from a podcast about how many times you have left with your own parents. Think, how many times do you see them a year? How many years could they likely have remaining? It certainly changed my outlook on things. I'm thankful that both my and my wife's parent(s) don't live too far away so we're able to see them monthly at the least.
We spend a large portion of our lives between the ages of 5 and 18 with our friends, essentially the educational years. Beyond that peak at 18, it declines sharply to a depressingly low baseline. Between work, family lives, and spreading our remaining time, the proportion of a week that we can typically allocate to friends is unavoidably small; therefore, it's important to focus on depth rather than breadth - there just isn't enough time to go around.
It's important to therefore invest your energy and time into healthy, meaningful friendships.
If, like me, you've been at a company for a long time, it's likely that you'll have spent more time with some of your colleagues than most other people in your life. Most of us will spend between 40+ years working - it's therefore vital and truly invaluable to be in a job with people whose company you enjoy and who uplift and champion you.
Probably an obvious one, but your partner is likely to be the person you will spend the largest portion of your life with. Timelines and tragedies may prevent this, but it's so important to ensure you find someone whose company you cherish and that brings you joy. I know I have.
As life moves forward, the amount of time you'll spend alone will incrementally increase until eventually it becomes one of the biggest sources of cumulative time spent.
Learning to thrive in solitude will set you up well in life.