That’s the number.
That’s the number of weeks that you may, may get to make all your dreams come true — if you’re lucky enough to live to 80 years old, that is.
I know — when you stare at it and think of it in relation to the amount of time you thought you get in a lifetime, it’s a staggeringly small number.
It has been a favorite dinner party topic of mine for the last several years, mostly because of the shock value it retains. It takes everyone, everyone by surprise.
Anyone who knows me knows I do possess the ability to “small talk”, I can banter about nonsense for a little bit, but then things get real. Real quick.
“I never thought of it that way before…”
He looked up at me, bewildered by what he had just heard. Recently “retired”, this cancer researcher and lifelong scientist was clearly down on his luck, disheveled, emotionally broken, and the picture of moroseness, he sorrowfully recounted to me the story of why he thought his life was over. Having run into him while attending a mutual friend’s dinner party, I had taken a moment to attempt to listen and provide some perspective for this man in his early 60s, distraught that a sudden and unexpected change of plans by a prominent university resulted in his research funding being unceremoniously cancelled. This had sent him into a mental tailspin, from which he evidently hadn’t yet recovered.
As he spoke I tried to be sympathetic, comforting, commiserative, but the entire time in my head I was thinking “You have been reseraching cancer!! Has a cure been found yet?? This world still needs you! Don’t give up because things change, an obstacle was thrown in your path, a new tactic is required to fight your battle. Don’t give up! Make your time count!”?
Weeks later, I meet a 51-year old fashion entrepreneur who tells me that her retail business is dying because of “kids like you and your mobile phones and all the internet shopping.”
Shortly thereafter, while doing some pro bono digital strategy consulting and endeavoring to help out a friend 5 years younger than me, in a fit of pique and despair, he complained to me that he didn’t “get the use case for social media” and how it could possibly help his chocolate import business. It was, apparently, too late for him to learn and grasp.
I say this again and again, vociferously, to all who will hear it: you simply don’t have the time to fret about the changing world around you.
You have 4000 weeks to make your mark. Maybe.
My beloved father, who I still miss dearly every single day, died from congenital heart failure at age 55. He, unfortunately, only got 2900 odd weeks.
Think about how often we just put shit off like it’s nothing. “I’ll get to it next week”, we say, as if next week is guaranteed.
If you’re a numbers person, or if you just have some basic common sense, you will quickly realize that 4000 isn’t a lot. Of anything.
Stop feeling lost, and mired with self doubt, and hesitant, and upset because you are comparing where you are to where you perceive someone else is — get moving.
Get fucking moving. You don’t have time to spare.
We need you, and what you have to contribute to the world, while you’re here.
Because one day, very soon, your 4000 weeks will be up, and the universe will simply make room for another batter to come up to the plate and take your place.