Reflections 26th September

On my mind this week.

Reconnection. As a society, we appear to be in a high energy system at the moment, with any slight disturbance generating noise, sparks and a tendency to separation more than connection. For example, a vague rumour of temporary fuel shortages triggers panic buying and arguments at service stations and sparks Supermarkets talking of rationing toilet rolls, all catalysed by sensation generating media to which politicians seem to react as followers more than leaders. 

It’s an old adage that there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing, and I think we can draw parallels with where we are today. We are in the middle of a significant transition, and it’s not negotiable. No matter how lobbying airlines, travel companies, hospitality businesses, and energy companies do, we have no choice other than to dramatically change our consumption habits within a generation. Tinkering at the edges, making blustering promises to be better in future is not going to do it, and it would be good to have leadership that would grasp that nettle, but at present, we do not.

We are not giving our imagination room to grow beyond working to find other ways to consume more. We have spent a century in an experiment based on turning everything into money, only to find it’s a finite game and the winners, a handful of them, have been declared, and the game is over. 

We have to be looking for a new game, preferably based on relationships, responsibility, reciprocity and redistribution focused on everyone and everything we share the planet with. I do not believe that this is some hippy vision but a brutal reality if we are to make our tenure as homo sapiens sapiens more than the briefest of brief interludes in the earth’s long history and future. Unfortunately, the planet has more options than we do.

I think we have to find ways to reconnect. Large groups do not foster the sort of connection we need. We know many other people but do not create relationships. We become more defensive and competitive than collaborative and creative and end up with a form of mass loneliness.

Reconnection does not happen at scale. It happens one person at a time until we have small groups – around eight seems to generate the best energies. Then groups find other groups and gradually, but steadily and surprisingly quickly until we have communities. Some of practice, some of purpose, some of the interest – it varies, and what they have in common is a space to have honest conversations of discovery. They help us find our way out of the template, “best practice” homogenised habits that work has become. They are space to reconnect with what is important to us and reorient ourselves to what matters. We may not be able to stop the world and get off, but we can slow it down and find where we want to be on it.

Suppose there is one thing we can do to equip ourselves for the inevitable stormy weather we are heading into? In that case, it is to find ourselves a small group where we can have honest, unhurried conversations that shine a light on our futures.

Inspiring me this week.

Gossip fosters connection and saves lives. But keep it offline, otherwise, it falls into that dark machinery of algorithms designed to encourage conflict. 

How to be anxious. Anxiety is not our enemy, it is a signal that all is not well, and we can use it constructively.

Making Better Decisions. We are all making more decisions under more pressure. I make this Farnam St post a regular read, to remind myself how not to be stupid. It’s not foolproof, but it does help.

The Disappearance of Rituals. Byung Chul Han. one of things that helps keep us grounded is simple rituals, from the water cooler to regular shared food to religions. We lost many of them during the lockdown and have not replaced them. I think that’s a loss we can correct.

Homo Ludens. Johan Huizinga. One of the other things we have forgotten how to do is play – joyous, non competitive, escapist play. This book, written in 1938, is regarded as the foundation of the study of play, so I’m reading it for inspiration for how we approach serious subjects in the right frame of mind. Doom is a frame of mind.

Finding the Mother Tree. Suzanne Simard. A wonderful fifty minutes listening that will change youw view of trees forever.

My quotation for this week.

“If a serious statement is defined as one that may be made in terms of waking life, poetry will never rise to the level of seriousness. It lies beyond seriousness, on that more primitive and original level where the child, the animal, the savage, and the seer belong, in the region of dream, enchantment, ecstasy, laughter. To understand poetry we must be capable of donning the child’s soul like a magic cloak and of forsaking man’s wisdom for the child’s.” 

Johan Huizinga. Homo Ludens.

Have a great week. Make connections. Have conversations. They matter. if you don’t know where to start, send me a message.

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