How to change ‘who’ you are


e16 / podcast & show notes, wherein I wherein I muse upon existential crises and fluidity of character



Is that title click-baity? I hope not. It’s a bit audacious though.

Anyoo:—What-ho and hello! The question at the heart of today’s podcast arrived to me in the most wondrous manner—via the post, in glorious wax-sealed hand-written letter form—and thus naturally it shot straight to the top of my regard.

Oh the feeling of a hand written letter! There’s a certain beckoning quality to it, quietly inviting—akin to the quietude that comes from a pot of tea in the still of the night, perfectly steeped.

I’m not sure if this came through in the podcast, but I relished this letter. It had a certain warm nonchalance to it, and harboured a couple of deep questions. I read it aloud in my signature dyslexic style on the podcast—but I shall paraphrase it here as so:

“Dear Dr’s Fox & Lam… Having decided to give the Word of the Year challenge another shot, I think I realise that—coming from a theatrical background—I need a more specific character to draw on. Do you see any issue with choosing a historical personal or fictional character as opposed to an archetype as a beacon?”
—The Templar of Forgotten Stationery

Ah. Thank you so much, dear Templar. Your question provided the perfect opportunity to riff a bit further on the notion of choosing on Word. It’s a good time to be reviewing our progress thus far, and the lessons inherent. They’re often not quite what we anticipate…

In this podcast I find myself talking about existential crises (which aren’t simply happening in mid-life anymore: they’re happening earlier and more often). I currently find this domain particularly rich, as I am currently navigating my own form of transition and flux. (To what? Who knows!).

I free-flowed this podcast, but I think we covered some rich terrain. Fertile soils in this one. Dark fruits of wisdom for those willing to sample.

A few things I mentioned in this show:

  • Positive disintegration—I don’t particularly agree with this theory (as it reeks of essentialism), but I do appreciate the alternative perspective on anxiety and depression, and its general thrust.

  • Speaking of, I didn’t mention Professor Randolph Nesse in the podcast, but I wish I did. His view of depression is that it is an adaptive mechanism meant to protect us from blind optimism (crude summary).

  • Immunity to Change by Robert Kegan and Lisa Leahy

  • Much of the work of The School of Life is geared toward balancing the optimism and cheerfulness that modern society seems obsessed with. Here’s an apt article on the ailments of modern life—> Overcoming the Need to Be Exceptional. I’m not sure I agree with the mollifying conclusion (I’d rather take a ‘both-and’ approach, rather than simply accept the soothing balm the School recommends), but it’s all good and useful stuff.

  • In case you missed my treatise on the One Word thing, I made a lengthy podcast about it. Years ago I wrote articles on it, and I feature it in my books. Kim and I are currently working on a more accessible (simpler yet non-reduced) piece in time for December—be sure to subscribe to my museletter for early insight.

  • Here’s the Dark Forest Theory of The Internet I think I briefly mentioned. “These are all spaces where depressurized conversation is possible because of their non-indexed, non-optimized, and non-gamified environments.”

  • I’ve mentioned this before, but this is a worthy read: Ego Is Not The Enemy.

  • Negative Capability! Oh how I am coming to love this concept. Here’s the wikipedia summation, and here’s a more artful expansion.

Righto, that’ll do for now. As you may have heard in the podcast—I’m on a quest to make things easier to share with you, and hence I shan’t belabour my points (much as is my want). Adieu!

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