#depth

Perry Timms
7 min readJan 6, 2024

In my first Medium missive of a new calendar year, it could be about predictions — plenty of those out there. It could be about future-gazing more generally and vaguely — plenty of those, too.

Instead, it’s about appreciating depth.

By that, I mean an active form of appreciation, exploration and revelling in something immersive, captivating, stimulating, and way beyond the superficiality that seems to be the modern era’s trend.

And even saying the word trend. Transient, fleeting, seasonal, temporary, in then out (sometimes forever). Trends are the antithesis of depth.

Here are a few examples of the depths that are important to me. Not trends in the more popular sense but trends that I’ve stuck with and that have stuck with me.

  1. Music.

There is SUCH depth in some music. Not all, but certainly some. I remember hearing “I Love Music” by The O’Jays. I was 9 years old. I wasn’t sure what forms music took, but I know this song deeply affected me. I couldn't get enough of it. Little did I know this was an anthemic instance in life as I really love music. And of the soulful variety practised by The O’Jays.

Soul music is — by its nomenclature — music from and for the soul. Largely an evolutionary by-product of the fusion of Gospel, the Blues and Jazz, it was categorised as “Rhythm & Blues” by the record industry. As a “something”, it’s meant a lot to me since I was 9 years old. I’ve literally devoted my musical interests to this genre and some offshoots. I continue to find the depth of soul music so appealing, that I still can’t get enough of it.

I’ve gone deeper into a sub-genre of soul music known as Northern Soul (1960s rare tracks from across the USA but mainly from Detroit, Chicago, New York, LA, DC, and Philadelphia). It’s been a musical form I’ve appreciated for over 40 years now. The depth of affection, connection and continued joy I derive from this form of music is as fervent now as when I discovered it decades ago.

If anyone’s remotely interested, my very favourite track (and I have a top 1200 listing in my iTunes collection!)) is The Ringleader's “All Of My Life” (an unreleased acetate from around 1966 that surfaced in the 1980s).

I have a Spotify playlist of some of my Rare (Northern Soul) favourites — kicking off with that track — here

2. Reading

I’ve always loved reading. Something about the immersive nature of reading the written word and finding things to learn, revel in and enjoy is another steadfast aspect of my world.

In my earlier days, it was related to school work, but that quickly grew into interest fields I discovered, and the animal kingdom was a big passion of mine. Then, there is some fiction, particularly science fiction, and things about the world of work. Yes, I am one of those who buys a lot of business books, and some are trite and overhyped. But I’ve learned SO much through being a tenacious reader.

Reading has SUCH depth. Sure, we can learn and watch videos or listen to podcasts. But reading does it for me every time.

Here’s my bookcase for no other reason than “shelf-porn”.

You’ll see some books on Soul Music there, a picture of Marvin Gaye, and a 7" vinyl unplayed copy of that Ringleaders track (I have two copies of it, one I play and one that will never be played).

3. People.

Oh, my word, there’s so much depth and, of course, so much shallowness in people. But here’s what I mean by depth in people.

  • Sincerity
  • Care
  • Support
  • Energy
  • Vibrancy
  • Commitment
  • Devotion
  • Dedication
  • Virtue
  • Honour
  • Respect
  • Appreciation
  • Comfort
  • Understanding
  • Valour
  • Openness
  • Calmness
  • Belief

If you find someone with all of these, hold onto them and treasure them in whatever way and also, be that way with them too.

Beware of superficiality, fakery and the charade of these things. You’ll sense it, which’ll be incongruent with a sincere and lasting relationship.

But going “deep” with a smaller number of people seems to be the way to find that lasting bond with others that transcends all the social media fakery of thousands of “friends”.

4. Craft

By this, I mean what you do that brings you joy and is in pursuit of something bigger and more important than you. To many of us, this might be a hobby. To others, it might be their work. Paid or otherwise.

But craft — as featured in LSE Professor Richard Sennett’s work in his 2008 book The Craftsman — in his view is this:

Most people need a sustainable life narrative; they take pride in being good at something specific, and they value the experiences they’ve lived through.

Craft may seem like a diminishing aspect of our work when so much is digitised, replicable, automated, mechanical and leaned to within an inch of its existence in pursuit of efficiency.

So the question of our time around craft and work, though, is:
Which future of work is best for the people DOING the work as craft, rather than for those extracting ever greater profits?

Craft doesn’t have to mean artful. You can be an administrator helping people solve their problems and log those calls to a helpdesk system. And yet, you take each query so seriously; your attention to detail, completeness, satisfaction in resolution, and imaginative creation of the best possible outcome is not algorithmic and scripted and constrained to a set process. It is sincere, thoughtful, creative, and adaptive, giving you a sense of craft in accomplishing your goal of helping someone else. No matter how trivial it may seem in the grand scheme of things.

Craft is deep and has more feeling. Work is merely what you do within that craft.

5. Thinking

Is there anything more deep than thinking? Well, see number 6 below, but thinking is how we rationalise, envision, and bring to words those things that we are puzzled by, excited by, troubled by, and all manner in between.

Being called a “thinker” is an honour because we’re perhaps in a shorter supply of thinking than we need (IMHO).

Like others I’ve spoken to, I spend a lot of time in my own head and then externalising those thoughts with close others, and it’s all about thoughts and thinking. But it’s only constructed intellect (in the main) until you add…

6. Feeling

The ultimate depth. What you almost cannot determine, choose or sometimes rationalise. You may feel something involuntarily and then think it through.

It is the same with that favourite song of mine by The Ringleaders.

I hear the opening drum beat, the driving sax, and the haunting vocals. They could be singing about making a pancake, and I’d still love it. The words aren’t that important. They come into it, but it’s how that song makes me feel that’s important.

And the memories of when I first heard it and then again, and then wanted to get a copy of it so I could play it myself (which eluded me for years until a CD compilation that contained the track was released).

Now, it’s a song that whenever I hit play or put the stylus on the one copy I do play, I never stop it and immerse myself in it for the 2 minutes and 13 seconds of its audio bliss.

Do I like it because it’s trendy? I was somewhat enraptured by the scarcity and rareness of it; as until the early 2000s, you couldn’t get it. There was one acetate copy of it. And I kinda liked the obscurity of it.

Now it’s more available on a series of reissued 7" vinyl and CD formats (so much so that I have 2 copies of it myself), and even Spotify has it.

So it’s not elite like that anymore. If I were a particular way of inclination, I’d shun it for its availability. But I don’t care if it made No. 1 and was played on the radio daily. It won’t, but if it were, it’d be 2 minutes and 13 seconds of pure joy for me. It was never released to the buying public at the time of its conception and recording and could’ve been lost to me. I may have found another song to have this about. And the 1200+ on my iTunes playlist all have something to them. But I feel this song, though, more than any. Nothing will change that.

As it is with people, books, my craft, my thoughts. It’s not about ranking per se, but sometimes you have such depth for a song, book, person, element of craft, or thoughts — they stand out as the deepest of the deep.

But there’s genuinely nothing deeper than feelings that wrap all of the other 5 together.

So that’s depth to me. Music, literature, people, craft, thinking and feeling.

2024 — without predicting anything — is starting for me around depth, and that will probably be the theme throughout it.

Not more, not growth, depth.

The original acetate recording of “All Of My Life” by The Ringleaders

--

--

Perry Timms

CEO PTHR |2x TEDx speaker | Author: Transformational HR + The Energized Workplace | HR Most Influential Thinker 2017–2023 | Soulboy + Northampton Town fan