Exciting website updates at antonjarrod.com on the horizon

What’s been happening?

Of course, a lot has been going on for people all around the world during these past months, and people I know have been managing their isolation and social withdrawal in different ways. One of the many things that I’ve been focusing on is the planned (and much delayed) website update, and I’ve really welcomed the chance to have a bit more time to dedicate to this project. 

And so I thought I would write a quick post to give an indication that I am now hoping to launch a new-look for this website next month in June!

I am very happy about it! And this is not only because I’ve been planning it for more than a year now and have up to now made very little progress, but also because I’ve got lots of exciting new content and directions to share. 

Growing interest

Looking at some of the figures from my website control panel, interest in this site has grown a lot since I first launched it in November 2016. 

The aim for the site back then was simply to have a place on the web to call home; a place where I could share my work, research and interests in and on modern spirituality more widely. 

Some three and a half years later, this is still a big part of the aim. Whilst I think that a good number of people will always be interested in exploring their own spirituality and issues and ideas related to this, I think that particularly at this time in the history of the world there is a need to look at the deeper causes of things, to the essence of things. And that is what ‘spirit’ is, after all – the essence of things. 

16000 Visits Per Month!

The figures show that between 14000 and 16000 visits per month are made to this site, and the numbers are growing month on month, and year on year, as this graph shows: 

Line graph showing increasing visits per month to www.antonjarrod.com between November 2016 and February 2020

The annual trend can be seen to increase as well over the three-year period from November 2016, as this graph shows:

Line graph showing biannual increased growth in visitors to www.antonjarrod.com, with trendline

I am personally very pleased with these results, and when I checked the figures I was massively surprised to see numbers in the tens of thousands – I was hopeful for figures in the low hundreds at best. 

Furthermore, it does seem that visits to antonjarrod.com come from all over the world. I particularly like this map from my web host, showing global reach and visitation for the period May 2019 to May 2020. 

Screenshot of map showing global annual visitor spread for www.antonjarrod.com between May 2019 and May 2020

I know that I should not read too much into these figures, but my take from the picture I’m getting is that I should feel encouraged to try and produce high-quality content that people find useful and interesting. 

Work being done in the background

Well, the work to do a website update is indeed quite challenging. I will fill you in on some of the things that I’ve been doing. 

But first, it might be worth mentioning that I have been working practically by myself on this project – and this is the main reason why it has taken so long. Yet, I am very grateful to my friend Njteh for his expert tips and advice for how I might approach this project and for what kind of changes I should make. Massive thanks to you!

Web design is now much easier than it was when I took a course in web design basics back in 2002 at UCL. Those were the days! I remember spending ages trying to learn Dreamweaver – remember that? 

Still, web design today is not at all straightforward. To get the project on the road, I’ve had to learn more about content writing for the web, and the technical aspects of creating ‘staging sites’ and so on. I’ve also had to do a huge amount of research into the best kind of theme and layout that would work to really update this website and make it look fresh. It has taken a long time; hopefully it all works out and the site will launch fine next month, but there may still be a spanner in the works. I live in hope, shall we say. 

Final thoughts

The most important thing, however, is still ‘content’. As a writer who was sort of trained in an old fashioned way i.e. who learned the art of writing by reading the great masters of literature and thought from the past, I’ve had to get out of my comfort zone to write for the web, and write for a whole range of different audiences. This has been very exciting and I think that my writing is much better for it.

The challenge for me has always been with finding a way to communicate extremely difficult and complex thoughts in a way that is easy for people to understand. I hope I strike the right balance.

Yet it is not only written content that I’ve been learning to create – it is also video and graphic content too. I’m very excited about the next steps along this particular line, and hopefully the new site will make it easier for all this kind of content to work well together. Remember, you can see my latest video content on my YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/antonjarrod

There has been a lot of work going on in the background, and I can’t wait to share this with visitors to this updated website next month (or soon in any event). 

Please check back soon and watch out for further announcements. 

Anton

Talking about “My Spiritual Journey” (and how difficult it is to find the words)

For a long time I had experienced a sort of writer’s block when trying to find the right words and expression for a short series of videos on my spiritual journey. The main reason, as far as I could discern it, was to do with accuracy – principally, being unable to accurately express something as vast and all-pervading as the direct encounter with spirituality over a whole lifetime, in just as few short words. The task seemed impossible as I thought through it: how on earth (literally) could I give another person any sense of the enormity of what has been experienced? At best, all that could be communicated would be the scantest, most irrelevant and most superficial details.

After all, dealing with spirituality is by nature dealing with the very things that language has not been built up to describe, namely, the non-physical. Yes, we have a developed a whole system of words for abstract concepts, but the spiritual world lies as much above and beyond the world of thought – the natural terrain for concepts – as the world of thought lies above the world of matter. Trying to capture the nature and reality of spirituality and its experience in a rather crude material like “thought” seems just as pointless as like trying to catch the wind in a sieve.

Of course, I was well aware that there was a long and illustrious history of people writing about spirituality and their encounter with “that” in ways that marvelled and excelled, and brought language to its own limits. Yet, the landscapes they had painted, and the worlds they had described, were all coloured by the language and concept-systems of the traditions and religious teachings in which they were embedded. When St John of the Cross talks about his dark night, it is a dark night illuminated and bound by Christian teaching and imagery. For someone sitting firmly outside of the religious traditions, those tropes and concepts and images would not be helpful. I could not paint my own picture in the language of the spiritual tradition, as it seemed to me.

Yet, at the same time, it was not my objective to create a new language for the experience I wished to talk about. I had to find a practical way through the difficulties and not be overtaken by them or prevented from speaking. So, even whilst they remained, and I was left to use words such as “spiritual journey” and “God” in my eventual and resulting videos, I was able to speak something about my experience, since childhood, of encountering spiritual reality. And I was pleased to be able to release the final and third short video this week.

My practical solution: I told a simple story, in three parts, of how I came to the decision and determination to look for and at spirituality in a serious manner, and where that led to. This meant, my own spirituality, my own experience of it. As far as can be achieved in what amounts to a total of 30 minutes of speaking, I am pleased to be able to highlight the main shape of a story of becoming and realisation, and awakening to what is my current truth. What it lacks in detail, comprehensiveness, and perhaps originality in terms of what I light upon, it makes up for in being able to condense in as short a space as possible the “impossible-to-describe” reality of experience regarding spirituality reality.

True, I have side-stepped the thorny issue of language and representation, and I’ve gone for communicability instead of accuracy and precision, using common words and frames of thinking, even though I still feel I haven’t quite said very much about the real nature of the “journey” that I’ve been on, but that work can be for another time. For now, as part of my work of sharing insights into spiritual reality and our encounter with it, I am pleased with the result and feel that it would help encourage conversations with others about their own spiritual journeys, where they’ve been, where they are, and where they see themselves as headed.