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Professor Green writes

Making Time

‘Wait a Moment’ – Professor Green column

Professor Green

In his latest column, Stephen Manderson writes about our perceptions of time, and the relationships we have with 'moments'.

With it being the beginning of 2019 there tends to be a lot of looking back, a lot of looking forward, and a hell of a lot of panic as we enter a new year, maybe even more of a panic than the mark of another year since we popped out of our mothers and made an appearance (our birthdays). Markers by which we measure time, but often also our happiness – have we done enough? Are we where we thought we’d be? Are we where we wanted to be? Are we where we are meant to be? One thing’s for sure, we are where we are.

For some of us another year has passed and nothing much has changed, despite how much has happened. The realisation that all, most or, at best, some of what we’d planned to change, resolve or achieve remained as was – unresolved and unachieved.

Fuck.

As we get older, ever nearing the point where there’s more years behind us than there is in front of us, condensing our past into moments, we get the feeling the years are passing by quicker.

That’s my reasoning for the years speeding up anyway.

We’ve done most of the major stuff, a lot of our first’s are out of the way: our first steps, first kisses, first loves, first heartbreaks, first jobs, and if you’re as lucky as me, your first arrest, first stabbing, first time being hit by a car, first marriage… there aren’t many first’s left.

School’s done with and you’ve probably settled into your career, so any learning is up to you. When was the last time you learned something new?

You’ve settled into, or even worse, settled for, a routine.

Life has become more or less more of the same.

It highlights what I’m trying to get my head around here: moments. We don’t look back and remember the mundane, we remember the moments; the good, the bad, the great. The terrible, the funny, the hilarious. Some more prominent in our minds than others.

There’s always a moment, a moment we meet someone, a moment we get things right, a moment we get things wrong, moments, always moments. Those dearest are normally the ones we share.

The moment everything changed, the moment we changed. Every single moment no matter how seemingly unimportant led up to exactly wherever you are right this second, and the moments that take place now are determining your future. The choices handed to us and the decisions we make are leading up to the moments we’ll encounter next.

The moments we wait our whole lives for, the ones that leave you wondering if it’ll ever be this good again. Nostalgia, the Chinese whispers that we think of as memories, romanticised by us to remind us that we’ve felt, felt something special. So special in fact that how could we ever feel something so beautiful again?

Robbing us of the ability to do just that.

Our minds getting in the way and causing us to think all the things we’re supposed to feel. The phrase, ‘I think I love you’ – it makes no sense at all.

Someone asked me to discuss the last year during a podcast, and I couldn’t remember what the bloody hell had happened! I know a hell of a lot did, but what were the moments?

I ended another relationship. I was sober for nearly four months. I gave anti-depressants a chance, got on and off them and have never been as anxious or obsessive or compulsive since. My last documentary was nominated for a Grierson and won a special recommendation. I released four songs, one of which sparked a national campaign for a national day of grief awareness – all off the back of a hashtag-driven public forum for people to share photographs and stories of people they’ve loved and lost. The single was ‘Photographs’ featuring Rag ‘n’ Bone Man. The hashtag across Twitter and Instagram was #wishthatitookmorephotographsofus.

After four years of filming documentaries, and the same since my last album and headline tour, we started back up again, selling out my first headline show in next to no time at all, without any idea if there was even any demand. The gig was defiant and triumphant, even receiving good reviews in the press.

I sold out my up and coming February tour in little over a day.

I had some incredible studio sessions with some incredible people and have written some of the my best music to date.

Two friends moved into my house and it’s become more of a home than it’s ever been. I actually miss home when I’m away.

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Busy babes, call me never 💅 #iusedtoravebutnowi

A post shared by Stephen Manderson (@iusedtoravebutnowi) on

I’ve focused more on myself than any year before it and realised that for all the connotations attached to the word ‘selfish’, the more I do what I need to, as far as my happiness and well being are concerned, the more content I am, the happier I am, the stronger I am. The better decisions I make. The better position I am in to help people should they need it – as opposed to being of no use to myself and draining myself by trying to take on problems which aren’t my own, despite not dealing with any of mine (a huge problem for me in the past).

I can’t remember the moment I threw guilt out the window and learned to say no, but it was a very important one.

The phrase ‘just a moment’ seems flippant. Moments are important, every single one of them. Every decision we make, all of the small moments count towards the hundreds of thousands of variables which land you in whatever situation you might find yourself in right now; moments that occurred years ago still have a bearing on where you are right now, and where you’re going to be in your coming days, things happening now determining what lies ahead. It’s a lot to take on. Your actions then have an effect on you now, your actions now affecting what’s to come.

How do we take that on board? Do we let go and put ourselves in the hands of Fate (where so much slips through the fingers), or do we take responsibility for what we want and how we achieve it? Finding the courage to stop making excuses and taking the steps, one foot in front of the other, in the direction of what we’d like to achieve.

There’s so much contradictory advice as to how we should live our lives; we’re told to live in the moment but also to learn from our mistakes. It isn’t possible to live by one or the other. We live in the moment during moments of impulse – we put into practice what we’ve learned from our past mistakes when we think before we jump. Progress is knowing when to do which.

To live in the moment takes forgetting the past, to open your heart and self up fully to enjoy whatever might happen in that moment, knowing what comes after might well be pain. Love hurts after all.

Learning from our mistakes might make us wiser, but it also makes us more guarded, more cautious. Less trusting, less spontaneous.

The walls we build keep the darkness out, but also in, the light only shining through the cracks – and aren’t we all fractured?

While it might protect us in some instances, it robs us of experiences and stifles feelings, it robs us of moments.

Moments, when all’s said and done, add up to create the one moment we have, the only thing that’s truly ours, our moment here.

Previously I’ve let people around me enjoy moments I’ve created more than myself because I’ve been too worried about what’s round the corner to be happy. I’ve been trapped by my own excuses, my own worries and my own guilt; too scared to turn work down in case I never get another job, worried if I take time for myself everything I’m trying to build will collapse, making excuses as to why I can’t travel because it suits an agenda I had I wasn’t even aware of: to rob myself of happiness and keep myself in a place where if anything did go wrong I was already half prepared for it, and expecting of it, in this weird place where I’d subconsciously help manifest what, if asked, I would say consciously I didn’t want to occur.

So much going on it’s important to take step back and enjoy it all, to take a moment.

January’s just about done. Is it your year? Is anything different? Has anything changed? Have you changed?

Take a moment to think about it.

Illustration by  Berta Vallo. 

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