This is the second of two slightly different episodes of the podcast Subtle Disruptors.
I have had a three-month break from releasing episodes, and before kicking off 2017 I wanted to think about the key themes that emerged during the 2016 interviews, and to ponder the areas I want to explore as I talk to people in 2017.
Last week I released the 2016 reflection episode, and this week I will be talking about the ideas I am curious about as I start 2017.
I started this podcast for a few reasons. During my gap year I was having some amazing conversations with everyday people all over Melbourne, people who were doing fascinating things in their life and work, with purpose and with meaning. People who were doing it in a way that was subtle and accessible, and in a way that could easily be implemented by others.
It got me thinking that there is so much good happening in the world that goes unnoticed and unpublished. I wanted to meet more of these kinds of people, to have more of these kind of conversations, and I wanted to provide a way for these stories to be told and for others to hear about them.
I had a suspicion that the types of people putting themselves out there in this way would often feel isolated in their quest, and to have a way to connect to others on a similar path would be encouraging and inspiring.
As I think about this I am trying to find a way to categorise these people – who they are and what they are doing. But perhaps the best way to describe them is why they are doing what they are doing.
They are doing it because they have listened to a deep seeded hunch about living in a way that is aligned with their own inner-nature, and aligned with the external-nature they find themselves living in. Not stopping at listening, they have had the courage to take a first step in following this hunch. And then another. And then another. Sometimes slipping. Sometimes pausing. Always feeling, being, questing.
For some this has meant leaving a job that was no longer aligned with them, to start or join something that was. For others this has meant changing the way they eat, where they live, what they spend their money on, or how they connect with others. The manifestations vary, but the underlying reasons seem consistent.
Some of my listeners have described a common trait among those I interview – something they described as egolessness. They are who they are, and doing what they are doing, not because of how it will make them look or what they stand to gain, but because it sits well with them, and its what they’re compelled to do.
It has been an honour to talk with and learn from these people in 2016. And in 2017 I want to go deeper and further, and with a tighter focus.
Over this three month break I have been struck by a number of thoughts. Initially they may not seem all that connected, but I hope as I dump them out I can also connect the dots.
The first is that humans are going to Mars within my life time. Will Dayble, A guy I am planning to interview this year, opened my mind to the audacity of this thought – how extraordinary that I am living at the exact moment when humans become an inter-planetary species.
This got me wondering about whether this was a good thing, what it would change in the way humans think of themselves and our planet. I watched TV shows such as Mars and researched this development.
The second thought come to me thanks to the book Homo Deus written by Yuval Noah Harari. Harari talks about how it is quite possible, also within my lifetime, that some humans will live for 150 years and beyond, will have everything they do monitored and informed by artificial intelligence, and in many ways will be unrecognisable as humans. We will have evolved to become a new species – post-human – not through biological evolution, but through technological evolution.
This idea of myself as a member of a species that was on the cusp of evolving rocked me. What are we becoming, and do we want to become this? Do we want to evolve? Do we have a choice? What about those who do not evolve? And how will this evolution change the way we think about ourselves and our ecosystem?
The third thought followed-on from this and came to me while watching the TV series Black Mirror and re-reading the book Neuromancer. Given the rate of change in technology, what kind of world are we going to inhabit in 20, 50 or 500 years time? How can I understand the change that is occurring? Do we have any power to shape, design or mould this? And if we do, how do we want to shape it?
I could summarise my change in thinking to that of understanding myself as a member of a species, one that is a very small part of an ecosystem, an even smaller part of a historical and future ecosystem, and an even smaller part of a historical and future universe.
Given this context and all its dimensions, including the temporal, biological, technological, ecological, historical, and spacial, and from these three thoughts, two key areas of exploration emerged:
1) What does it mean to live well in this moment, in this context, and how can we go about doing this?
2) What sort of world do we want to inhabit, want our ancestors to inhabit, and how can we harness our context and the change that is occurring around us to bring this into being?
These will be the two questions that focus my attention in a number of things I do this year, including my reading, my work, and of course as I interview people on Subtle Disruptors.
I hope to interview people who can help me understand the context I am living in, and the subtle changes that are happening around me. People who are actively trying to harness these things to bring about a future that more of our species, and our ecosystem, thrive within, what ever that may mean.
People, who while thinking and acting upon this quest, are also living well now, in this moment.
Next week I will start releasing new interview episodes.