After a year of helping to manage this website and reading a lot of thought-provoking, moving and inspiring articles, now it’s my turn to contribute to the project.
My first thought is that I’ve got no chance of building on this body of work. My second thought is more negative than that, and so on down the trail of self-depreciation I go.
But, somewhere on the collapsing spiral I get a shaft of light and a slight recall of how I’ve chosen to adapt to the time pressures, crises and confusions of the last 18 months. I think I’ve got something.
Looking back, as I was feeling the strain of pandemic time, I responded by looking at the timeless things of life.
Sounds lofty right? In reality it wasn’t. My efforts were a tad more desperate than valiant and - if truth be told - I was frantically grasping for a semblance of control that would soothe my panicked soul. However, that aside, I can say that the journey did me some good.
Faced with the impending collapse of life as we knew it (hello March 2020 my old friend), once I had completed the first season of Tiger King and realised that teaching was not a vocation anyone could pick up quickly, my thoughts turned to how best to live when nothing was guaranteed.
So, as the diems became hard to carpe, I started noting down a list of timeless things. Things that felt good and right when life was not obvious and time was not easily observable. These things were transcendent, applicable to any moment, meaningful in whatever context.
Sounds exciting right? Well, get ready for the letdown. These things were not profound. They were basic. Really, really basic. Doing the timeless things did not result in any lightbulb moments, no one wept, no orchestral swells accompanied my good deeds and I am not in line to win any awards as a result of them.
It felt right though.
Want the full list? I can’t give you that, you’ll have to sign up to my online course for just £555 or three easy payments for £195 + VAT (kidding). Also, the list is long and I’m a stickler for word count, but I can share a few of the timeless things I found when my sense of time was pulled from underneath me, let me transition to a list...
Doing what you say you’re going to do, when you said you’re going to do it.
Remembering things people told you about their lives then asking them about those things when you next talk to them.
Being present in friendships that have no transactional value.
Doing practical things that advance collective good more than personal good.
Saying thank you to the person who serves you in a shop or delivers a parcel to your door.
Doing that last thing while making eye contact (terrifying I know).
Creating a sense of self that is separate to your working identity.
Valuing consistency, but also remaining open to new information that could change your mind.
Apologising first rather than defending first.
Listening to understand, not listening to interrupt.
Finding a physical activity you like, and doing it.
Telling the people you love that you love them, often.
Finding humour in the mundane things of life.
Creating routines and traditions for you, your friends and your family.
Remembering to have some fun.
Sharing what you have.
Asking after people you haven’t seen or heard from for a while.
As I said, none of this stuff is particularly exciting, revelatory or worthy of note. I imagine your response to this article is either feeling underwhelmed (on the positive side) or patronised (at the other end of the scale).
I know, I share your disappointment. I wanted the timeless things to be far more glam, to have more ‘pop’ and to be altogether more marketable. But, the awkward truth is these ideas have echoed across ages, cultures and even millenia (maybe not the parcel delivery, but you get the principle behind that right?). That is surely no coincidence.
The timeless things grounded me, they helped me find meaning and satisfaction in the last two years of life. I’m grateful for the simplicity and predictability of them, I’d urge you to consider them as you muse on all things time related.
Finally, a brief note from myself about this website. Your attention reading these articles has been humbling, thank you for your time.