Turning off my cell phone and climbing into that tank also allows me to explore the past without being interrupted. This is especially important during the holidays, because I get to relive the year that's about to end. But the mind is a tricky thing. When shut off from all sensory input, your brain will reshuffle events into a new order, grouping together moments that share a common quality. This is a good thing because it gives you the opportunity to examine how you spent your time over the last 12 months. For instance:
I spent a total of five days and 12 hours lying.
Twenty-one hours were devoted to yelling at my assistant.
I spent more than 19 days begging casting directors for auditions that I knew were right for my clients.
During tough contract negotiations, I spent 17 hours and 29 minutes acting like I knew what I was doing. I also used up nine hours wondering if there's something better I could be doing with my life.
I spent an entire day watching mediocre work at acting showcases.
Over three and a half hours were spent rolling my eyes at inane comments made by actors during meetings, comments like "If you sign me, I promise I'll book." As a result, my eye muscles are stronger than Thor's hammer.
I spent 19 hours feeling heartbroken for clients who just missed booking life-changing jobs, and 41 minutes experiencing pure joy when they did.
Almost two days of my life were spent at private screenings watching movies I knew would never get a distribution deal. Add another seven hours and change for all the poorly produced shorts I had to endure.
I spent three days studying headshots and five days watching demo reels. That was tough going but absolutely essential.
A lot of time was wasted working with managers who didn't know what they were doing. If I had to guess, I'd say we're looking at a whole week on this one.
I spent a month wondering why clients leave after you've worked so hard to make their dreams come true.
Therapy took up four days, A.A. meetings lasted a little less, and anger-management class was good for 20 minutes.
I spent 42 minutes laughing at statements like "Web series are the wave of the future, and I'm riding high!"
Visiting clients on set consumed six days, 14 hours, and 25 minutes. It was time well spent. I wish I could say the same for all the bad theater I had to attend. Time stands still when you're watching a play that refuses to end.
And finally, I spent 38 hours being thankful for my rewarding career, talented co-workers, and brilliant clients. Even the bad days beat working on a dock.
I've been a Hollywood talent agent for more than 10 years. One day, when I have enough time, I'm going to break down the last decade so I can see where all those days and hours and minutes went. Then again, maybe that's not the best idea in the world. Maybe I should just stop paying that hippie on Venice Beach to let me use his tank.
What about you? How did you spend your time last year? And what changes are you going to make in 2011?
(Secret Agent Man would like to acknowledge David Eagleman's wonderful book "Sum" as the inspiration for this column.)