Four Thousand Weeks

“We treat everything we’re doing- life itself, in other words – as valuable only insofar as it lays the groundwork for something else.” 

What a revelatory, life-affirming book! It examines our relationship with time, how we perceive it, use it and try to outrun the knowledge that it is so limited for us – an average of four thousand weeks. 

Burkeman makes the case that only by facing our finitude can we step into a truly authentic relationship with life. Look at everything that had to align for you to be here at all. Once we stop treating time as our birthright, it becomes easier to accept what happens.

Philosophers examine not how to “decide most wisely what not to do and how to feel at peace about not doing it.” We can’t possibly do everything we imagine, nor live all the lives that we’d like to so we might as well let go of that notion and then it becomes easier to focus on what’s in front of us and to do our best.

With that in mind, the book looks at the fabric of communities, the myth of a work-life balance and the relationship between our attention and social media. It’s faster to get groceries on an app but it’s the mundane interactions at the corner store that, when multiplied, build a sense of belonging in a neighbourhood. An e-card takes the effort out of the task but “when you render the process more convenient, you drain it of its meaning.” The idea that “what you pay attention to will define, for you, what reality is” is enlightening, since the attention economy has highjacked our ability to choose how to invest our time. 

The book ends with five questions that you can ask of your own life. These are thought-provoking, as is every chapter in this witty, practical and inspiring work. Burkeman draws on philosophy, science and psychology to create a landscape of wisdom that enables the reader to redefine and reclaim their moments in time.

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