Posted in know better do better, mental health, mindset, motivation, podcasts, thoughtfulness

Podcast re: addiction

There’s not a bite or a sound clip or a quote for me to pull from this podcast—there was just too much—so I’m just going to recommend listening to the whole thing.

Dax Shepard (Armchair Expert) talks with Johann Hari about his research and books exploring addiction.

Much of the information was not new to me. I already knew that the American system of shame and punishment doesn’t work (and don’t understand how that’s not obvious to everyone, honestly). I already knew other countries had put systems in place for controlled legalization and rehabilitation with stunning effects. I already knew that addicts are largely survivors of trauma and that healing the trauma is how to get rid of the addiction in those people.

I didn’t know that we knew all of that well before Nancy Reagan’s campaign.

Larger than that, I didn’t know where the War on Drugs started, despite some familiarity with jazz history. That story—fairly early in the podcast—is worth the listen, even if you don’t listen any farther. It’s horrifying.

I also found validation in some of his information. Again, not information that was new to me, but it’s always affirming to hear it from someone else.

Go listen, then come back and let’s have a conversation, shall we?

(Also, some of Dax’s arguments made me crazy, especially given some arguments he’s made on previous episodes. But that doesn’t change the fantastic content from Johann.)



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Posted in mindset, podcasts

Editing as evidence of failure

I have been listening to a series on creativity on Freakonomics. One episode was on failure, and there was a notion that caught my attention.

They repeatedly referred to drafts as failures.

I write a lot nowadays. I’ve done more years of formal schooling than I care to count (but would be a professional student if I had the opportunity!) that all included various degrees of formal, written work.

Likewise, I have avoided potential opportunities because of fear of failure, of looking stupid, of embarrassing myself.

I suppose, because there is no overlap in those two, I had never considered writing that needed revision as a failure. Quite the opposite—sharing with others writing that was unedited would be a fail, because I’m not putting out my best work. (With the understanding that “best” is on a sliding scale.)

Yesterday’s post, for example, is completely different than the original draft. I think there ended up being two or three sentences that stayed in. It’s much better than the original. Was the first draft a failure?

I feel it was more just a step in the process. (Maybe failing is a step in the process.) I had a lot of thoughts and I got them down in a largely cohesive way. How those thoughts ended up looking was different, but the life breath of the post was the same.

Maybe that’s it for me—creative projects have a life to them, and as long as that exists, the project succeeds. (This ties in with the Elizabeth Gilbert quote that maybe was part of me before I heard it or maybe it became part of me because it was so delightful.)

The blog is a project. Each post is, too. Each photo and the whole experience of learning to take photos. Each route climbed. Each race run. Each song learned. And on and on.

But failures? I’m not so sure.

Posted in know better do better, podcasts, vulnerability

Podcast quote: humans’ biggest superpower

The TED Interview has been an interesting little series to work through. Chris Anderson talks with people who have given TED talks to delve a little deeper into their content.

Through this, I listened to a “bonus episode” (not found on the site linked above, but accessible through a podcast app) of Ezra Klein interviewing him on his own show (link also not available on his website). The following quote is long but it says so much about our current times. This is Anderson speaking. (And it’s much more delightful to listen to him speak than to read it—go listen to it!)

In theory, ideas are these beautiful things that are the ownership of every human being. It is a complete miracle that an idea that is invented in one mind can spread to others and the other minds it spreads to, in principle, can be in people of a different color, a different religion, a different race, a different part of the world, rich or poor. Ideas belong to everyone at a very deep level. And yet today, we’re in danger of them not doing that because we are shutting down channels of communication with each other.

For an idea to spread, for it to move from one mind to another, there has to be an openness in the receiving mind. And you know when you think about it, we’ve evolved with this wonderful ability to be skeptical. It’s an incredibly important ability. You walk around in the world and you’re constantly getting input from, signals from other people, people will say things, you’ll have advertisements thrown at you. You have to be skeptical. If you responded positively to every incoming signal, you would very soon have no money and no control of your life at all. And so, it’s incredibly important to be skeptical, but to actually learn something, you have to be open, and the decision as to whether that steel door of skepticism slams down or opens up is therefore of huge consequence.

What’s happening in the current environment where these little weaponized text messages that we send each other on Twitter and Facebook and so forth, coupled with a partisan media environment offline and probably lots of other things, but we are tribalizing each other. We are simplifying the question about skepticism into a very simple one: is this person on my side? It’s becoming easier and easier to predict from knowing one thing about someone, possibly even just how they look, what they believe about a bunch of other things. And if we think, “No, that’s not me,” then the steel door slams down and no matter what the person says, probably, nothing will be learned or communicated. And that is an absolute crying tragedy and civilizational-threatening if that were to continue.

That is humans throwing away their single biggest super power, the single biggest miracle that has allowed us get to where we are, which is this sharing of knowledge, we are throwing away because we’re losing trust in each other.

(I see this happening in an “I’m not sharing because I don’t want other people to make money/get credit” way, also.)

Oddly, shortly after listening to the one quoted above, I listened to an episode of Freakonomics. I thought the second half of it tied in with this really nicely. If you listen to both, let me know how they connect for you.

Posted in know better do better, mental health, podcasts

Podcast quote: variations on a theme

There’s a short podcast series (four episodes) called UnErased, talking about the history of gay conversion therapy in the US.

It’s captivating.

You’ll experience at least most of the span of human emotions listening to it—or at least, I did.

In the last episode, they spend time with John Smid, a man among the leadership for 25 years—many of them as the top dog—of Love in Action, a giant inpatient evangelical gay conversion program—”ex-gay ministry.”

Unsurprisingly, John is gay. (The most vitriolic anti-gays almost always are.)

He had this to say.

“I don’t like my life to be painted as a villain, and that’s kinda the way I feel about this movie [Boy Erased]. It’s like, I don’t like it, it’s uncomfortable. I don’t like the movie. I don’t like the book. I don’t like what people are saying. I don’t like hearing Garrett talk about it. I don’t like it; it’s uncomfortable. At the same time, there is truth in that I was a forerunner and a spokesperson and a national and international leader that said you must eradicate homosexuality from your life.”

I’ve written here about “when you know better, do better,” and I thought this quote exemplifies that so clearly. No, he doesn’t like it, but it’s real, and he owns it.

(Later in the podcast, they get into some philosophy behind that—with all of the suffering he induced, should he get to just walk away? So interesting!)



Posted in ebb & flow, gifts, hope, mindset, podcasts, storytelling, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Podcast quote: creativity (and so much more)

TED has started a new podcast series called TED Interviews, where Chris Anderson interviews people who have give TED talks about their talks, and they get more in depth.

I haven’t quite listened to all of them, but all that I’ve listened to have been captivating. (As of this writing, there are only six of them.)

I listened to an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert, mostly known for writing Eat, Pray, Love. (I haven’t read it.)

First, they got into creativity. She talked a short bit about the history of creativity (who knew there was one?!) I loved the imagery in what she had to say:

“The way I describe it is the way I’ve empirically experienced it, which is broken down in my life to this notion: that ideas are living entities. They have consciousness. They don’t have matter. They can’t be seen, they can’t be felt, they can’t be proven, but they have will. And the way I picture it—and it’s sort of whimsical but I have also literally based my life on this—is the universe is sort of swirling with these ideas that wish to be created and they’re constantly looking for human collaborators because for some reason we have this oddly sensitive consciousness that can hear them and find them. And so the way I picture it is they sort of just roam around being like, ‘Are you my mother? Are you my mother? Are you my mother?’ And every single human who is struck by inspiration describes the experience exactly the same way … there’s this distraction where the idea sort of consumes you and in that consuming which can take months, weeks, years, the idea is interviewing you and asking you, ‘Do you wanna do this thing with me or not?’ And that’s the most important conversation that I think human beings can have, is that dialogue between your willingness to cooperate and show up and make something with this idea and manifest it and the idea’s desire to be made and the question of whether you are indeed the right partner.”

Whimsical was a solid word to describe the idea, but I love the imagery. Even more, though, I love the ownership of the work, and how the idea doesn’t just come and magically happen—it’s a partnership. “Your labor is the contribution to the miracle.” (She says that later.)

She talked more about that in other places in the podcast as well.

They also talked about curiosity vs. passion, enchantment vs. empiricism, fear, memes (not the pictures on the internet), secular magic, dark night of the soul, why to do the work if it’s likely to fail, and quite a bit about grieving.

It’s an hour long, and it’s well worth your hour. I listened to it twice, in addition to the bits I listened and paused so I could transcribe.