Monday, October 7, 2019
My flight leaves at 1:30 pm tomorrow. I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m trying to write every sentence of this post in the present simple. Oops, that didn’t last long.
Okay, let me explain. I’m about to start a new adventure, traveling to Prague in the Czech Republic to take a four-week course on how to teach English as a foreign language. In preparation, it was recommended that we brush up on our English grammar skills. So over the past few weeks, I’ve been furiously trying to comprehend what I normally do without thinking.
To get a better grasp on it, I thought it might be helpful to start a travel blog and frame my experience around the grammar points that I need to master.
As it turns out, the present simple isn’t all that simple. The online training listed five separate situations in which we use it and none of them are what’s happening right now.
The first is permanent situations and part of the reason I’m going to Prague is that I find myself lacking in that area right now. For the first time since I was in high school, I don’t have a job. After spending most of my adult life consumed by my professional development, last year I decided that I wanted to focus on other areas of my life.
At my most recent job, I still worked hard but tried not to be too obsessive about it and take some time to explore other interests. Trying new things, making friends, traveling… I was attempting to have my career only be a part of my identity.
And then I lost my job. I wasn’t fired and there is no possible way that they could legitimately say that I wasn’t doing good work, but in August my contract wasn’t renewed. The way that it all went down was upsetting, to say the least.
Frightened at the prospect of not having a steady paycheck and purpose in life, I immediately set out to find a new job. That’s another situation in which we use the present simple, for routines and habits, and for a long time I’ve set my life worth solely on being able to say: I have a job.
It didn’t matter that I was often unhappy at my last job, surrounded by negativity and toxic attitudes — I just wanted people to see that I was doing something with my life. I was following what I thought you had to do. Rules or laws of life. You go to school, get a job, climb that career ladder, buy a house etc. etc.
But another situation for the present simple is state verbs. State verbs aren’t actions but states of being. In my own present, simple life, I’ve realized that I don’t need to be so focused on my actions, my accomplishments. I need to find happiness that doesn’t rely on pointing to a career. I need to just be.
So I put a pause on my job search.
Teaching English doesn’t have anything to do with my current career aspirations. It isn’t a step towards a higher paying gig. It’s just a potential avenue for adventure, a chance to meet new interesting people and maybe get a clearer idea of what truly makes me feel content.
The fifth situation in which we use the present simple is for the future with a timetable. There isn’t a specific date on a calendar when I’m guaranteed to be fulfilled in life, but I do know that my flight leaves at 1:30 pm tomorrow.