The day(s) the earth stood still

Snow isn’t fun for everyone, I won’t ignore that; it can be dangerous and depressing to vulnerable and unfortunate folks. But where I live, this recent drift slowed the world down and it was magical and I just wanted to take a moment to examine why.

Schools closed, offices closed, local shops & pubs stayed open but were sparse on supplies. Was there panic? No. People came outside, talked, laughed. People checked on their neighbours. The village was completely alive in a way I’ve never seen it.

There were no cars! Children & animals explored a new map and were safe to do so; we were all free to walk wherever we wanted. It felt like seeing the world in 3D for the first time in a long while.

Many like me are fortunate enough to work from home and conversely on occasions like this when everyone else shuts down, we have to stay on top of things – there is nowhere to hide. So what am I so happy about?

Well, although there was a core set of people in my business carrying on as normal, many more were unable to login. Our communication was cut to the absolute necessities. Anything considered trivial was thrown out for a couple of days. The result was a huge reduction in pressure and the gift of time in which to give things the attention they deserve. I really enjoyed my work, having time to concentrate and to refine my output.

Being totally snowed-in, we couldn’t go anywhere in the evenings or over the weekend. So I wrote some much overdue music, fixed an old watch and built my favourite new creation to-date. It’s a linen dial (vintage as usual and Russian, a brand I’m not familiar with) with a new mechanical movement and polished steel case and veggie watch strap (which I’m actually going to change but am waiting for new supplies to get through the snow!!). It will be on very soon.

When we have a set of limitations to work within we have a tendency to see it as restrictive, but I found that embracing it actually made me more efficient, more productive and much happier.

Did you know that in other parts of Europe companies are starting to shut down employees’ computers for periods during the day to force people to get away from work for a little bit? A Norwegian friend tells me this has been happening in Scandinavia for years. So what is Britain’s problem? We just can’t quit. We say we’re ‘stoic’ (and we completely misunderstand that word; the philosophy of stoicism is not having a ‘stiff upper lip’ and working yourself to death, look it up). Those who don’t want to or are unable to give every last breath to their day job are in competition with those who do, and that’s not fair or realistic. It has become unhealthy.

Well we can’t have a snow drift every week but I’m personally going to make an effort to consciously ignore the trivial demands around me and to give time and concentration to the things that matter. I’m going to try harder to lead by example and that includes resting when I need to rest and putting myself first more often. After checking on the neighbours, obviously.