Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How much of your life can you account for?

Back in the early 90's, the play (and movie) Six Degrees of Separation challenged its audience to ponder, "How much of your life can you account for?" I rolled this question around in my head for several years. How many of my actions are the result of deliberated decisions? How often am I consciously moving myself from point A to point B? I've come to notice, not a whole lot. I think the breakdown of my life spent can be roughly broken into three parts:

1. Conscious living. About 15% percent of my time is spent actually thinking -- that is, actually thinking about an action or decision before I make it. These decisions are typically big, important ones such as taking a new job, buying a house, figuring out whether a guy is worth a second date, choosing a new shampoo, or settling on a go-to ice cream flavor. These decisions lay out the basic shape of my life. They take a significant amount of brain power and are exhausting, so once the decision is made, they become the go-to answers to any quasi-relevant question.

2. Mindless Plodding. I spend the vast bulk of my life -- perhaps eighty 80% -- plodding back and forth along the reliable route that I've created with the few decisions I've made. To work and back. To my favorite grocery store and back. Down the same jogging path and back. Another scoop of pistachio ice cream, please.

3. Moron Tax. The rest is spent on Moron Tax. Moron tax is all the time, energy, and money I spend to fix the mistakes that arise from poor decision making or mindless plodding. For instance, I once stepped into my car to make a 10 minute drive to the grocery store less than 5 miles away; instead, I zoned out and drove about 45 minutes and more than 35 miles to my parent's home. I didn't notice until I literally pulled into the driveway. All the gas lost, the time lost, the hits to my ego whenever my parents remind me about it adds up to Moron Tax.

The intention of this blog is to account for the Moron Tax part of my life that I have previously spent in secret and in shame, hoping that no one noticed. This blog will bring to light those kick-myself moments of frustration when I miss the last exit before ramping onto a 6 mile bridge I didn't need to cross. And the money spent on online-purchases that arrived when I was on vacation and are stolen off my porch. And the time spent pulling splinters from my fingers that I got using a shovel that I left out in the rain and sun for several months.

Please share your accounts of Moron Tax, too. Perhaps we'll find out that a sizeable portion of the U.S. economy is driven by our collective moments of idiocy.

1 comment:

  1. I have a bad Car-Finding Gene. I routinely forget where my car is parked. I recently parked my car about 10 spots over from where I usually park it at work, and thought for a good 3 seconds that my car had been stolen. My mom once enlisted two mall security guys to help her look for her car for 30 minutes. And then realized that she had driven the other car to the mall. It's amazing my family is alive and able to function every day.