The Unaccountable Weight of Accountability

In Dani Shapiro’s memoir Hourglass, she quotes something the writer Grace Paley once said: the years between ages 50 and 80 go by so fast they feel less like minutes, more like seconds. I suspect Paley and Shapiro are right, although I’m not there yet, so I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that adulthood is ticking by at an alarming rate. The idea of making my days count makes me feel like I’m not wasting them.

But I’m awfully good at wasting time. Sometimes, if I’m lying on the sofa trying to see how many Doritos I can stack up on my own shirt, the only thing that’s going to get me moving is a friend calling to say, “Hey, we swore we’d walk every day this week. Let’s go.” I love having friends who hold each other accountable to our goals.

The only problem? Nobody can be accountable to everybody all at once. That’s what this little bit of humor is about in The New York Times this week:


(Read it here.)

PS: How fabulous is that crazy art Aya Kakeda made to go with it?? I love those little eyeballs.


  1. I lie to these groups because I don’t want anyone to know I’m non-compliant. I wonder if they’re lying too. I’m lying to myself at the same time. In accountability denial.

  2. Time goes fast up until the present. I’m in my 50s and it doesn’t seem like seconds to 80, but when I’m 80, I’m sure it will. But that’s cause I won’t be able to remember how I got there.

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