I’ve shared this visual before and I think and it’s important. Yes, for our work, but more importantly for who we are.
I find it astonishing that after the age of 25, friends are the group we spend the least amount of time with. Solitude grows exponentially and replaces relationships of all kinds – with family, friends, partners, and co-workers. From the age of 30 to 60, our lives are often dictated by the arrival and then swift departure of children. So, two learnings I bestow upon you:
- Make the most of encounters
Time has the impression of speeding up as we grow older. That’s because our brains aren’t experiencing as many new things (watch Vox’s episode on time on Netflix, it’s amazing). As a child, every day is a school day – literally. We learn vocabulary, how to socialise, sit in different classrooms, play sport, get a crush, discover heartbreak, celebrate birthdays, the list goes on. When we spend more time alone, the danger is we stop experiencing the new, and time just seems to drift by. And when we do catch-up with friends it’s often to do just that – catch-up on what has already happened. Stealing inspiration from this Twitterer, why not go play with your mates as a grown-ass human, instead of just hanging out? You may want to see them more and more if you do.
2. Realise life’s patterns by looking at the big picture.
The things we do tend to occur with incredible frequency, especially when we put them in perspective. I probably watch Arsenal play live 5-10 times a year. If we’re being wishful, I may live till I’m 80 or 90, as that graph suggests. That means I’ll only watch Arsenal another 400 times (I’ve watched 10 games on the telly already this week for fuck sake). I probably read 5 books a year. That means I’ll read just another 300 books from all those that are out there. The same can be said for the cinema, restaurants, holidays.
Tim Urban wrote a great piece on this and, while he’s slightly older than me, one point struck a chord. “When I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time.”
I know I often put the blinkers on and fly through every day until I say: “how is it already Thursday, Sunday, Monday again.” The who we spend our time with graph shows that not everything is so regular.
So, whether it’s friends or family – make it count. And if it is time spent alone, find something that enriches it. Perspective is an amazing thing for making us appreciate the here and now.