This Is Your Life

A chart showing how quickly your life is slipping through your fingers - ach year weighted by its percent of the total lifespan to that point

This is a graph of an eighty-year life. Each slice represents one year.

The slices’ sizes are weighted by what percentage that year represents of the whole lifespan to that point. At age one, the first year represents 100% of your whole life, so it is given a value of one hundred. Your second year is given a value of fifty, since it represents 50% of your life at age two.

By the time you get to age 21 and look back on the last year, you find that represents only 4.8% of your life. Furthermore, because each additional year represents a smaller relative portion of your life, three quarters of your life is already over. This is why time seems to go by more quickly as you get older.

In an attempt to offset the depressing nature of this visualization, I have added an unscientific representation of your potential cumulative effect on humanity, good or bad, as your life progresses. This is purely a function of your increasing ability to affect other people in (1) more areas of life and (2) within ever-widening physical bounds as time goes on, combined with the generational effects of your influence on others’ contact with people in their lifetimes.


“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; In practice, there is.”
— Chuck Reid

This is a correlation to the “life is like a roll of toilet paper” idea that my Dad used to quote fairly often (well, about as often as everything else profound he “said”). I say quote – because the way he said it and the twinkle in his grin made me suspicious that he had heard it from someone else at least as clever. […] The diminishing diameter of a roll of toilet paper as it is used means each succeeding revolution yields fewer and fewer square inches of useable surface. So unless you figure out how to use less and less toilet paper as the roll gets smaller, it will go faster.

Tim Dueck

This graph was used in a video titled How Old Can We Get (relevant section starts at 2:53), which was uploaded in October 2011 and as of this note has more than 1.6 million views.

Joel Dueck (Author)