The Series

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This week, I applied for the position of community manager for The School of Life. They want someone to build their online and offline communities, and I’m just the person for the job. That at least was the topic for the 200 word email they asked for, which I worked on Saturday, on and off, then the CV on Sunday, reshaping the email a dozen times as I went. In the end, off it went.

By Tuesday, I had itchy fingers; 200 words allows only so much. I had suggested to The School of Life that the best way to grow their business was to talk to those who are coming through TSOL courses, listen to them, and build support for the next steps those people were taking. I speculated that they’d probably want more time to talk in something like the space of intimate but public inquiry provided in their courses.

What might be possible in the online environment? We’re all over free-for-all forums where idiots rule. We want time with sensible, thoughtful people, but we need a way to check out what others are like, and to venture what’s true for us, without immediately having to converse. And even when I know someone, it’s tedious having discussion as our only option. Why don’t each of us say something, in a condensed way,  then shut up. Why not assemble points of view and experience from like-minded people, to get a sense of how we’re handling challenges common to all of us.

So the series. Post a postcard from your life, on a theme. Set a word limit, encourage visual, video, audio, but again, with limits. Invite past course participants to contribute.

A series, for example, called Taking my time, just the sort of thing someone who had recently taken a TSOL course on “how to balance work and life”, or “how to stay calm” might be thinking about and challenged by. “Describe a moment when you took your time.” In 200 words, images encouraged. Here’s what I might post to such a series:

I was in town for a meeting, then went to lunch for a debrief with our team, and after that, across the road to visit a friend in St Vincent’s Hospital, so by the time the #96 tram came up to Swanston St, I figured I was cutting it too fine for the 3.15 train, and decided not to rush. I got off the tram.

I’d heard about the poetry bookshop in the Nicholson Building from the poet Peter Bakowski, but never been there, and as I’d paid my dues to mammom in a long meeting, I figured an hour off was in order.


It had started raining at some point in the morning. For a spacious minute I stood beside the busker, his attention on the music.

I made it back to the station for the 4.20 to Bendigo, and I have just now pulled from my bag Stephen Dunn’s latest collection “Lines of Defence”. Bone dry observations, hard won determinations:

“….. If weather encroaches, I’ll go
inside, take down a romance from the shelf.
Mostly though, I want nothing that might
require me to want what I can’t have.”

Now imagine if 10 other people, or 20, responded to the same question.

We would get a wider perspective, and more depth to our understanding of the challenge of taking our time. Now imagine a series radiating out from each of TSOL’s courses, or series on matters cutting across different courses. We would start to build a picture of life as it’s being lived now, to put alongside what those philopsphers are saying about how to live.

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