I am here to explore the mystery and wonder of existence through love and compassion.
Love and compassion for myself, through consciousness and wellbeing.
Love and compassion for others, through connection and conversation.
Love and compassion for Earth, the universe, and all the beings and objects they contain,
through understanding my context, through creation, contribution and curation.
These four sentences are something I remind myself of each morning after finishing meditation. It serves as a way to focus all my activity for the day – I want everything I do to link back to this in someway. And while these four sentences about why I am here will no doubt change over time, right now it is the best I can come up with about why I am here, and what I am to do.
In many ways it has emerged from what I have learnt and read over the past two years, and the 43 people I have talked with on the podcast.While having a break from releasing episodes was a difficult thing to decide at the time, two months later I can see how important it was.
It has enabled me to think about what I have learnt through the first year of episodes. It has enabled me also to move house, and start a new job – things that will allow me again to focus on creating meaningful episodes. And it has enabled me to ponder new ideas about our species, the way we live, and what may come next.
Over the next few weeks I will be releasing a couple of episodes about these themes, to reflect on what I have learnt and to talk about what I want to explore next. This week I look back on some of the themes that have emerged through the first season.
Theme 1: The primary importance of taking care of myself, taking care of ourselves, so that we can be the best we can be in each moment.
My thoughts about health and fitness have changed dramatically over the past two years. In the past my internal rationale for looking after myself was so that I could look good, and live a long time.
My focus has changed to looking after my insides, and to bringing my best to as many moments as I can.
I want to be present. I want to bring my best qualities to each moment. I want to create my best work. I want to feel well. I want to love people and understand as well as I can about where and when I am.
To do this means understanding what it means to look after myself, and then to put it into practise. There were a number of episodes that touch on this topic, including:
- Masha Gorodilova on meditation and yoga;
- Adrian Medhurst on mindfulness and performance;
- Matthew Hoo on nutrition and movement; and
- Georgia Clarke-Edwards on eating well.
These are all things I am steadily and incrementally building into my life, creating new baselines of what I am capable of as I go.
For me, the ‘steadily’ part of this is crucial. I am not interested in doing these things intensely for a month. I want to ingrain them as my default way of doing things; new way of living. Therefore I am not focused on how quickly I get there. Rather that I make regular progress.
Theme 2: Its time for all of us to be frank about experience of being human, and to be open and curious about the experience of others.
The time for pretending is over. This may be conscious, deliberate pretending. It may be unconscious, ignorant pretending. Either way, I think we hurt ourselves by denying the reality of our own experience, or that of others.
And by putting on a show, by distorting what is going on for us, no matter how subtle, we also make it more difficult for others to live well. This is magnified for those who have a voice, are on stage, are writing books, or publishing podcasts.
I don’t think this is binary. Allowing ourselves to be as we are takes courage, awareness, and trust in ourselves. And the training ground is our everyday interactions with others.
A number of my guests have made authentic connection a central part of their work:
- Carmen Hawker talked about feminism and finding a path through the hyper-masculinity of sport;
- Emeli Paulo is the embodiment of authenticity, and through Collective Potential empowers others to also experience this;
- Jamin Heppell works at redeeming the local sporting club as a place for young men and women to form their character;
- Jimmy Ferne shared about creating a place and culture where men can be vulnerable and connect with each other; and
- Shalini Samuel spoke on the creativity and beauty that comes from embracing diversity in all its forms.
Theme 3: The current shift in values about how we live together
In my own life my living arrangements have undergone a dramatic change over the past two years, including moving out of the city, living close to my parents, and being a single-dad for 1 week out of every two.
These changes have prompted me to think about the type of dwelling I want to live in, where it would be, how it would be designed, and who I would be living close to, and just how close I would want that to be.
My current thinking on this is evolving quickly – I want to live in a minimal way, where I only own things that give me joy. I want to live in a way that enables me to be part of a community of people living close together. And I want to live in a way that connects me to the planet, and the ecosystem I am a very small part of.
Here are some of the topics that were covered under this theme:
- Karen Ellis talked about the joy and benefits of living frugally
- Maria Cameron shared about the organic emergence of her suburban community
- Sigrid McCarthy talked about sustainability and mindfulness in fashion
- Kate Challis discussed the connection between the design of a place and our wellbeing
- Al Jeffery open me up to the concept of co-living; and
- Rebecca Lovitt talked about the liberation brought through choosing to live with constraints.
Theme 4: What it means to work, and the new ways people are going about it
In 2015, as a 37 year old, I took my first gap year. A supposedly risky thing to do,I told myself I would go backwards in my career; that I would erode my security and savings.
But despite my own words of caution I felt I could do nothing else. I was not able to maintain my wellbeing and keep working the way I was. I need to stop everything. To allow the things that were superfluous to fall away and to see what remained.
After creating a couple of new ventures of my own, I needed to return to paid employment while they were given time to grow.
In experiencing the shock of being back in an office, working 9-5, five days per week, I could not help but think about the places, the meaning, and design of our work.
Thankfully I had a number of guests to give me their wisdom on this theme along the way.
- Melina Chan talked about life in a co-working space, and the impact this is having on all workplaces
- Dr Jason Fox talked about engaging in uncertain, unprecedented work, and bringing meaning and a sense of regular progress to all we do
- Mykel Dixon and I drove around Melbourne talking about artisan thinking and the role of the artist within the workplace
- Jirra Lulla-Harvey and I looked over the Punt Road Oval, while she shared about the values inherent in the way Aboriginal entrepreneurs conduct business; and
- I sat with Jarrod Briffa in a building full of social enterprises, and discussed enabling customers to unknowingly become agents of social change.
Theme 5: Developing our contextual awareness and understanding
Through speaking with people, reading and reflecting, and perhaps unexpectedly, watching some amazing TV shows, my own understanding of the context within which I exist has greatly expanded.
The following books have been eye-openers for me:
And of course, speaking with, and reflecting upon, the words of the following guests:
- Cameron Elliott, who shared and sang about crowd-sourcing wisdom;
- Gus Hervey who talked about science and technology and being intelligently optimistic about our future; and
- I spoke with Matt Wicking about understanding and acknowledging the temporal, biological, historical, and spacial context within which we live.
I feel grateful for what I have learnt over the course of putting this podcast together, and for the people it has enabled me to meet. As I contemplate where the podcast goes from here, I don’t want to do more of the same. I want to build on these insights and explore new areas.
In the next episode I will talk about the questions I keep coming back to, what this could mean for the podcast.
And in the mean time, it would be great to hear your thoughts on your favourite episodes, and on the themes we covered last year. You can do this through our Facebook page, or through emailing me directly through firstname.lastname@example.org