Applying ‘Deep Time’ in a Single Human Life (the ‘purpose’ question)

Cathy Presland
5 min readJun 16, 2021

What will I do with this one wild and precious life?

My Time?

When I wrote about deep time, I had in mind planetary time, or longer, a sense of timelessness, where ‘time’ is a construct of human consciousness and there is something that exists outside of human understanding.

The idea of time as ‘infinite’ perhaps?

But these are contemplations rather than the reality most of us live in and, most days, I find myself in much more practical conversations,

How shall I live?

How do I make the most impact with my one short life?

Will I ever achieve what I set out to achieve? Should I even bother??

Pretty common questions I find, for those of us who want life to mean something beyond our experience of it, who see systemic challenges and believe we can make a positive contribution, no matter how small.

Time, and Choice

I was in conversation with a friend who asked one specific question as we discussed the ‘state of the world’ over a virtual coffee.

No matter what I do, how is it possible for me to transform X system?

My first reaction was curiosity because he did not work in the system he was talking about.

We were ‘chatting’ as I saw it, a coffee conversation, rather than a coaching conversation. An exchange of opinions and anecdotes rather than anything that would lead us to action.

I pointed this out to him, because I think it’s easy to look at the ‘state of the world’, and feel helpless to do anything about it.

Do you want to? Do you have a desire to create change there, or are you observing?

I didn’t want to pre-judge, maybe he was having an epiphany about what to do with the rest of his life? It felt helpful to check in.

I too have those thoughts.

Many of my friends are active in climate-related work for example, important stuff, but it doesn’t feel like my priority right now, I prefer to support those who are the action-takers, to enable them to make better choices…



Cathy Presland

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