William Penn, an historic American politician, once remarked, “Time is what we want most, but... what we use worst.” He wasn’t wrong.
I have been looking very hard for a ‘bright-side’, to the chaos, fear, uncertainty and despair caused by the events we are currently living through. There are of course the heroic efforts of our healthcare workers, our educators and the other front line workers who are fighting to keep us healthy and safe; there are the remarkable stories of altruism, as people volunteer in their hundreds of thousands to help their communities and thanks to them all; their courage and humanity will be celebrated for decades to come.
But what else is there? Well maybe time itself. For some, who are away from that front line, it is as if time itself has slowed down. We are so used to doing everything at a million miles an hour; work hard, home, rush a meal, kids to bed, Netflix, sleep, repeat. We spend so much of our lives focusing on productivity; doing as much as we can, as efficiently as possible, that we often don’t have the time to look up, to breathe and to indulge in something truly developmental or transformative.
So here is the thing. You are not going to be as crazy right now; take a break from spending so much time reacting and spend a little more time for you and… don’t feel guilty about it.
One of the key causes of stress is that feeling of a lack of control that daily life promotes, its why, for example, we feel such large-scale anxiety at the moment; just witness some as they hoard and panic buy; self-preservation linked to the primal instinct of personal survival. We are almost educated to search out certainty and then rewarded for being efficient enough to find it; we are often educated out of taking risks, being adventurous or embracing uncertainty and its why when we can’t, we feel anger, guilt and fear; its why so many of us find it so hard to wind down, especially in times like these.
Truth is, its as if we on a train, commuting; head down in a laptop or papers, shouting down the phone, as we try to compensate for the dodgy signal… we are so busy ‘doing’, that we just don’t take the time to look out of the window and enjoy the view.
Now though, we have the chance to go by steam, slower and with no pre-defined arrival time. Its time to look up and take in that view.
Maybe, if you are healthy right now, you should try to cut through it all and see the slowing of time, the switch to a steam loco, as a gift, so jump onboard; it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
I know how committed you all are to education and to our learners but ironically, you never take time to learn yourselves’ do it now; read books, watch some online courses; cookery, knitting, model making… anything you’ve always had on your to-do list. Don’t feel guilty and don’t think that its frivolous or unproductive. It will have a profound impact on you and your professional life.
More than anything, by doing something proactive and productive, you will feel a greater sense of control and that will help your anxiety.
Its time for the Learned to become the learners once more; it’s a time to be a little selfish, it’s a time to exploit the slowing of time!
When you look back on the next few weeks and maybe months, look back with pride that it was not time squandered, but a gift you used to the fullest, so that when the clock starts turning at the right pace again; you are ready.
Good luck, stay safe, see you soon.
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Richard Gerver for Promote-Ed