One 20-year chunk at a time

Life is too large to live, or even think about living, in one large chunk. Even 24 hours is too much to deal with all at once. Our batteries can only run for so long, approximately 16 hours, before they need to be recharged. The Energizer bunny might have been able to keep on going and going but we can’t. Most people are only conscious, make that semi-conscious, for 66% of their existence. If you live to be 60 years old, you will spend about twenty of those years in a comatose state recovering from the other forty. Does being alive ever strike you as being incredibly strange?

Breaking life down into smaller chunks is not easy though. For there are approximately 65 different ways of going about it, and each method is no doubt advocated by someone with a Ph.D. who has written 14 books, etc. But they all tend to sound arbitrary and forced after a while; that is, if they are presented as the one and only possible approach to life. Self-help books, phases and all, can be helpful but not when presented as bedrock truth claims that seem to hang in the air. But maybe I am going through the phase-doubting phase. 

At the risk of appearing to add to the confusion, and the wild speculation, here is another slicing and dicing life-management system to consider. You might call it the “20-year chunk” theory. If you prefer something that sounds more sophisticated, you could simple say it in French: Vingt-annee fragmentaire. There you go. Write a book with a title like that, and you’ll be schmoozing with the power-talk-show-people in no time. If only Oprah hadn’t retired.

The basic idea behind this elaborate theory is (you’ll never guess) that you should attempt to live your life in 20-year chunks. If you plan on making it all the way to 80 years of age that would be four – count’em – four chunks. Yes, this was necessary to mention, and not intended as an insult to your mathematical intelligence, because some wise-guy will want to wait until kindergarten to start “chunking it.” It always happens. But, you have to start from the start. No freestyling is allowed. And if this book ever makes it on to the New York Times best sellers list, you can save yourself fifteen buck and further enhance your in-the-know prestige by reading what follows.

But first, a quick reminder that it is a good idea to live every day as if it is your last, because it could be. If only all who said that, including myself, actually did that. For today could very well be the day that you croak, kick the bucket, keel over, come to an untimely end, pass away, and to put it plainly – die. There is no guarantee that you will make it to the end of this article or live long enough to check your e-mail one more time. Don’t count on it. Whitney Houston didn’t make it to 50 and you and I might not make it through the next five minutes. If you feel like this website is wasting your precious time, by all means do something else that you really need to be doing. Life is too short to waste a lot of time.

And one more thing: The chunk theory is intended to be something that could have bounced down Ichthus Mountain. In case you are not up on ancient Greek acronyms, this is to say that it doesn’t just fit anywhere in the worldview spectrum.

The first 20-year chunk: Getting up to speed 

If you are wondering what you should be doing during the first couple decades on this planet, here is thought: Focus on your own personal development. Don’t just focus on yourself of course, but realize that you did not arrive on this earth as a fully functioning adult. Development, growing up, takes a lot of time and effort. Learning how to walk and talk and relate and read and organize your thoughts and develop your unique innate abilities in order to serve others, etc. all takes work. So work at it.

The second 20-year chunk: Going somewhere fast

This is the time, or the stage, when you launch out into life. Having discovered and developed yourself, you now need to find something significant to do with yourself. This often involves building core life-long relationships, choosing a general career direction, leaving home, perhaps starting a family. All sorts of things quickly happen, or get off the ground, during this period of life. Looking back, it happens really fast. But it doesn’t just happen; you need to intentionally take flight.

The third 20-year chunk: Setting up shop

Once some key life decisions have been made it becomes necessary to build a home base or if you like – settle down. This may sound restrictive to some of you, but realize that it is quite possible to become “stuck in the grooves of change.” Did I hear an amen? A lot of things in life simply take time; good relationships, for example, don’t just happen instantaneously. If you want to make a difference with your life, you have to establish yourself in some sense. Isn’t there a proverb about the importance of kindness and loyalty? So pick something that you can connect yourself to for many years to come even if it isn’t a place.

The fourth 20-year chunk: Moving on

Your career has come to an end. The kids are long gone. You were one of the “movers and shakers” in your town, in your community, in your company – but not any more. Things have changed, a lot of things, too many things. Time marches on, a little too fast for your liking, and you need to move on and make some adjustments in your life. But don’t despair. Don’t give up now. Don’t lose heart. Hang in there. Keep moving. Keep making a difference. You still have something to offer. You still have something to give. Life still lingers, and you are almost home.

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