‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that no matter how much effort you put into packing the contents of your kitchen (or your bedroom) the cupboards remain full’ (Jane Austen, possibly). The rest of the house is packing down ok but those last two rooms are proving resistant to change – not helped by the fact it takes a good two hours to sort through the contents of a ‘man drawer’ before deciding most of it is incredibly useful and should on no account be disposed of!
Amidst all the turmoil of packing up the house I have noticed another phenomenon beginning to take shape – I am about to become invisible to large swathes of my contacts. It is inevitable I guess, having chosen to put ourselves outside of the normal cut and thrust of life, that those areas of life that I am leaving behind will close ranks behind me and the ‘Ian-shaped space’ will be filled in like quicksand after you extract your boot. Linked-in contact requests will finish and Twitter followers will dry up, and I have been written out of the script for new projects long ago. Organisations are always bigger than the individuals that comprise it and for their survival life goes on with or without the person who has left. But more than that, within a short space of time the person themselves is forgotten.
That happens because for the most part in life we know people for what they do – how often is our opening gambit ‘and what do you do for a living?’ –so when we stop ‘doing’ we seemingly stop ‘being’. It is a relatively small number of people who know us for who we are rather than for what we do (especially I think our children who NEVER understand what it is we do and only ever see us for who we are) and to those people we are not invisible. Those are the important relationships that carry us through life and that need to be cherished and nurtured.
To be known for what we do is ephemeral. To be known for who we are is eternal!