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Roxanne Reviews "Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals"

Roxanne reviews Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman

Listening to radio while running on 9-11 over the Ringling Bridge, I heard several twentysomethings attempt a hopeful message, chiming in with different, yet equally sincere voices, of how Twitter, Facebook and TikTok have made us more connected, to which I was compelled to say out loud, “No we’re not, trust me’.

I use this anecdote as a preface for Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals review because it happened to sync up and accelerate my realization that the relationships I had (or were formed) pre 9-11 are foremost in my memory, heart and mind precisely because they were relationships built on face to face communication with humans with voice phone calls as a backup.

Burkeman’s title emphasizes that if we make it to 80 years of age, we live roughly four thousand weeks. That intro alone sounds pretty sobering, but Burkeman takes us through philosophers’ and scientists’ wisdom across centuries with conclusions that are very optimistic. Burkeman reassures us with stories such as the American who in 1969 went through a brutal orientation to become a Zen Buddhist with secrets to feeling at peace by merely stopping avoidance to the obvious, diving in to reclaim control of our lives.

Sure, sure, you’re thinking, ‘I’ve heard this be in the now speech before’. But Burkeman’s take is unique because he makes you aware of why surfing the internet is so appealing. Like swimming in a comforting pool because it is infinite, there’s a flow, a lazy river feel. Yet the cost of avoiding the discomfort of our daily constraints (which only feel interminable because we lack control over many outcomes) is denying the very life that is finite and hence, a precious commodity. Heady stuff to be sure, but well worth the read!

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