On Mortality Measured by Office Supplies

Mar 16, 2014 | 0 comments

Black StaplerThere’s a great end-of-life opinion piece in today’s New York Times by James Collins titled “Let Me Count the Days.” He realizes his mortality based on a box of staples (actually two boxes of staples) he found in his desk.

At his current rate of staple use, he would have to live to 323 years old to use up one box.

Here are a few of his amusing musings on the topic:

That’s when I realized that I was going to die: I owned more staples than I could possibly use in my lifetime, or several of my lifetimes… Nothing says mortality like the realization that you will live only long enough to use up 3.2 percent of your office supplies.

And about the number of books he has (which are many):

We can look at this another, equally pessimistic way. If I die in 30 years, when I will be 85, and if I read two books a month, then I have 720 books left to read in my entire life. That number seems so … numerical. So low. Far too few slots remain in my life for anywhere near the number of books I want to read. Now what am I supposed to do when I go into a bookstore? Buy only books in the humor section because they are always extremely short?

Staples, books, pickles …. When do you realize that you are going to die? When you realize that, in the remainder of your life, everything is countable.

Maybe one way we can ponder our mortality in a positive way is to count our blessings. Read the entire essay at NYTimes.com.


A Good Goodbye