39 — Make Wiggle Room

Yearly review of my life.

This is my 10th year of yearly birthday reflections. Here are the previous 9:

It is also the 7th anniversary of my 8:36pm project (see the story here). This year I took a photo at 8:36pm on only 310 out of the 365 days, missing 55, for a fairly low 85% success rate. Over the 7 years in all I’ve taken a photo on 2,402 of the 2,562 days, for an overall success rate of 94%.

Life by weeks

Life moves fast, but it also moves slow. I have a chart on busterbenson.com which maps out my life by weeks: every square is a week of my life, and every row is a year.

I look for events that are significant enough to leave a mark on this chart (I sometimes refer to this life change list which comes from a list of things that are known to alter the quality of your life). Things of the scale like getting married, having a kid, moving, starting a new job, reaching a big personal goal, etc. Last year, only 1 thing met this criteria, which was buying a house in September. (Changing jobs happened slightly after my birthday… this post is a couple weeks late.)

The black dot at the bottom of the chart, in August of 2052, is around where I’m expected to die at the age of 76 if I life a perfectly average life. All that white space is a blank slate for the rest of my life… it’s good to stare at it frequently.

Update on last year’s motto: cultivate quality time

My 38th year was marked by obsession with quality time. I continue to find new connections between it and every part of my life. Unlike many other pursuits, such as going directly after happiness, reputation, approval, security, or money, it doesn’t seem to be game-able. By which I mean the relentless pursuit of quality time doesn’t end up turning you into a person who loses touch with the most important things in life. There’s no way to try to have more quality time with your family, or with your work, or with your hobbies, or with yourself, and end up being an asshole.

Cultivating quality time, making time for yourself, your interests, your friends, and your family… it really is what life is all about, isn’t it?

This year’s motto: make wiggle room

This is sort of a continuation of last year’s motto, because I am starting to believe that the way to best cultivate quality time is to simply make room for it. For example, a great way to increase quality time with Kellianne is to make sure we have a regular date night. Just having space for my relationship helps make quality time happen.

The reason I think of it as wiggle room is because making space is also pretty tough. Certain parts of my life are very difficult to change. For example, the length of my commute is pretty static. However, the wiggle room I have involves what I do on that commute. I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks on my commute for the last couple years, and just last month I started writing really short posts (with lots of typos and hurried endings) on BART, and tagging them all #writtenonbart. The revelation to me was that rather than fight against the constraints that are tough to change, look for parts of my day that have a bit of wiggle room and then look for a way to use space that in a new way.

Another interesting coincidence of life is that I just started working at Slack, and people sometimes comment on its funny name. But there’s this:

So, here’s to finding new ways to make wiggle room this year, and to bringing quality time into those cracks.

Along with this yearly review, I also did a big edit/re-organization to my beliefs in the Codex, which I wrote up here. I’ll continue to do my monthly reviews there as well.


Niko and I meet Kellianne at the finish line of her AIDS/LifeCycle ride.

I think this is going to be a good year. Next time I do one of these yearly reviews, I’ll be 40! 😬

Have a great year! 🎉

Buster