So I put together a chart of the major blocks of time that I can account for.
I didn’t include those years when we’re typically not held accountable: certainly not the first decade, when we’re really not even aware that we’re about to become actual people. Or through high school, when we still don’t have much say in how we spend our time. Our calendars are pretty well penciled in by parents, administrators and other wielders of the authority stick.
Therefore, I’ve focused my attention on the years when we become comfortably deluded into thinking that we actually have some control over the course of our lives: our working years. So I’ve charted the major episodes of my working life that I feel define who I have become. This includes the occupations that were instructive or challenging, the episodes that helped me to mature or were otherwise important and meaningful to me.
A major problem becomes evident when I total these blocks of time: they total more than ninety years, and I’m not that old. The source of this chart is a spreadsheet that resides happily on another server, and is merely presented here through an incredibly complex chain of technical hocus-pocus. That source, which I devised for the purpose of this post, also has numerous smaller blocks of time that don’t even appear in the chart on this page. That’s where I get the 90 year figure from.
It all makes sense, however. For instance the 15 and 17 years slices of the pie chart run sort of concurrently: some days I would report to a boatyard, on others I’d show up at the foundry. In reality, though, these two occupational episodes are so tightly entwined that separating them would be meaningless. Similarly, the seven and five year periods cover the same calendar years, but working on websites and being the stay-at-home parent are very different activities. Other slices of the pie may be a total of smaller sub-slices. For instance, I spent two years as an oysterman in my twenties, three years on a little dragger in my thirties, and five years running clam boats in my forties, thus, ten years as a fisherman, with a little of this and that in between.
To be fair, I’m sure most of us feel as though we’ve been toiling away for a hundred years, and we can provide the math to support that feeling. We’ve all been very, very busy, and we deserve a little credit for our hard work. Yay us.
Unfortunately though, after this little exercise of trying to get a handle on what I’ve been doing with my time, I now feel as though I’ve lost track of an entire century.
Update: It’s been a couple of years since I wrote this. According to the logic presented above, It’s even worse than I thought!