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What we have left

“It turns out that 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. We’re in the tail end.”

I read a post called The Tail End by Tim Urban yesterday. Tim talks about how, if he lives to be 90, then he has about 56 Super Bowls left to watch, 300 books left to read, or 20 more Red Sox games to watch in person.

Then he gets into the scary stuff. What about the things that he did more of when he was a kid, like spending time with his parents?

It turns out that 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. We’re in the tail end.

Tim Urban

And his siblings?

It’s a similar story with my two sisters. After living in a house with them for 10 and 13 years respectively, I now live across the country from both of them and spend maybe 15 days with each of them a year. Hopefully, that leaves us with about 15% of our total hangout time left.

Tim Urban

For me, it’s a little different. My dad and my sister (and only sibling) both died years ago. I’ve used 100% of my time with them.

Now it’s just me and my mom, who lives right across the street. We get to see each other a lot, but she’s getting older. I hope to have 500 more days that include some time with her, but that may be optimistic.

Tim then talks about his old high school friends:

Now, scattered around the country with totally different lives and schedules, the five of us are in the same room at the same time probably 10 days each decade. The group is in its final 7%.

Tim Urban

I doubt I’ll ever see a single one of my high school friends again intentionally. I’ve used 100% of my time with my old friends.

DHH (of Basecamp and Ruby on Rails fame) wrote one of my favorite posts/rants of all time: “Growing apart and losing touch is human and healthy“. Here’s a choice quote:

I’m not the same person I was in high school. Not the same person I was at university. Not the same person I was with friends at age 15 as I was with a different group of friends at 21. I’m still not the same person with friends in programming as I am with friends in racing or with family or old mates from Denmark.

What allowed me to change and prosper was the freedom to grow apart and lose touch with people. It’s hard to change yourself if you’re stuck in the same social orbit. There’s a gravitational force that pulls you into repeating the same circular pattern over and over again. Breaking out of that takes tremendous force.

DHH

It’s easy to read The Tail End and end up feeling sad about the time we have left and the time we’ve used up.

No thanks. I will not cry about moving on from my high school friends any more than I’ll cry about moving on from roller blading or my once beloved Sega Dreamcast.

Tim’s post ends with this:

Your remaining face time with any person depends largely on where that person falls on your list of life priorities. Make sure this list is set by you—not by unconscious inertia.

Tim Urban

Exactly. I decide who to spend my future with. And it’s not based on who I spent my past with.