Edges, 'Good Trouble' & The Mystery of Consciousness

Plus: a Rare Glimpse into the Future of Higher Education & Chasing Curiosity as a Career Path

👋 Ahoy there!

🙏 Greetings Fellow Curious Humans // Over three hundred of you are first time readers. Welcome! Please feel free to introduce yourself to the curious community or hit reply to this email ;)

🥊 Duck & Weave // This edition of the newsletter is a little longer than most, because, well loads has happened! Please don’t feel any obligation to read in a linear fashion, but duck and weave your way through depending on which sections draws your fascination.

🧗‍♂️Between a Rock and a Joyful Place // One of my all time favourite lines by the writer Annie Dillard is: "How we spend our days, is in the end, how we spend our lives." I know these words to be capital ‘T’ true, yet they are so easy to lose sight of. Going outdoor climbing has been a reminder that all we (*ahem* ‘I’) really need in life to feel that bursting-at-the-seams sense of joy, is time in nature with a few fellow humans who embrace and love you for all of your kooky weirdness. That night, I fell asleep last night with a grin on my face so wide that my face felt sore.

💝 Immense Appreciation // to Buster, Alice, Lisa, Mark, Ell, Jezak, Andy, Chase, Danny, David, 'ursamajor71' & 'happyperson67' for casting a vote of confidence in my direction and generously becoming monthly paying subscribers, these gifts mean more than you can imagine.

Okay that’s enough chit-chat from me. Sending good vibes and high fives to wherever in the world you are reading this from and wishing you a glorious and joy-filled second half of 2019.

Stay Curious Out There!

–J

p.s. what was your favourite book growing up? Does the narrative contain have clues towards your life purpose? Add your thoughts here on Twitter.

Left: attempting to cross a raging Boulder river // Middle: The view from 10,000ft above British Colombia // Right: Hangtime!

🎧 Nudging Humans to Take their Curiosity More Seriously…

I'm thrilled (and slightly discombobulated) that over 2,500 people have had my voice chiming in through their ear-lugs since the Curious Humans podcast launch.

Financially speaking, indie podcasts aren’t the most sensible projects... investing upwards of a hundred hours in drafting, recording and editing conversations that could have otherwise been used for finding freelance work didn’t all make much ‘sense’.

But I felt compelled by the opportunity to learn and explore… and reading all of your reviews and messages have filled me with a deep irrational exuberance and a sense that this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

Here’s a summary of the first five episodes to date (270 minutes of total listening time in case you fancied binging on them all!)

🧘‍♀️#001 // Kinaesthetic Literacy & Yoga as a Technology for Cultivating Good Humans with Karina Guthrie

"In yoga, our job is to stay open, to explore whatever comes into our sphere of awareness with a sense of curiosity and play, to allow ourselves to become fascinated by whatever comes alive for us in the moment."

– Karina Guthrie

📝 #002 // David Whyte on Courage as a Measure of Our Heartfelt Participation with Life

"Courage is a measure of our heartfelt participation with life with another with the community a work a future. To be courageous is not necessarily to go anywhere or to do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences."

– David Whyte

🙋‍♂️ #003 // Embracing Uncertainty & Radical Curiosity with Leo Babauta

"When you’re feeling fear, instead of turning away from it or trying to escape/avoid it … try turning towards it. Actually allow yourself to feel the fear. We don’t often want to feel it, but we have a greater capacity to feel fear than we give ourselves credit for."

– Leo Babauta

👨‍🎓 #004 // A Rare Glimpse into the Future of Higher Education with Austin Louis

We talk about the courage required to step outside the curiosity-crippling traditional system into what he called the 'space between stories' and develop new worldviews. I found it inspiring to see the path that he has now found which feels more aligned with the human he aspires to become.

👩‍🚀 #005 // Chasing Curiosity as a Career Path with Anna Starkey

"Curiosity is the engine for both artistic and scientific enquiry about the world. It's time for a new age of curiosity to take flight - what if we could nurture a new culture of curious citizens, where everyone is enabled to ask questions, and to imagine our collective futures together."

– Anna Starkey

🙏 Help Keep the Podcast Going…

Once a podcast launches in iTunes there is an eight week window to get enough ratings to appear in the illusive 'New & Noteworthy' section… and I launched seven weeks ago. If you haven't already, I'd really appreciate your help taking a few moments to subscribe + give the Curious Humans podcast a five star rating here or share it with curious friends (if you also send me a screenshot of your review I'll mention your name in a future episode!)

Rate the Podcast


🦂 Courageous Curiosity: The Antidote To Fear

There's an old story from a Native American tribe where an elder sees his son is afraid of a scorpion running in the sand a few feet away.

The elder walks towards them both and uses a stick to draw a circle in the dirt around the scorpion.

The scorpion stops moving. The elder then draws a line down the middle of the circle that the scorpion was in, and the scorpion begun to get really frantic.

He repeats this once, twice and finally one more time, at which point… the scorpion stings itself to death.

It’s an intense story, but there’s a powerful lesson—when we are afraid of what we're afraid of, our world contracts. Those horizons of possibility for life narrow. Each time we feel fear and don't move towards it a line is drawn through the circle of your life.

One of the reasons I love harping on about curiosity so much, is that this sense of courageous curiosity, the habit of investigating what we are afraid of and gradually exposing ourselves to the outer edges of our fear, expands our circle.

I’ve written before about finding these edges in life, peering over them and occasionally summoning the spinal fortitude to lean into them.

Last weekend, I was given the opportunity to share my half-baked How to Human idea on the WDS stage in Portland… in front of 950 people. The thought of this filled me with excitement and terror in equal measure.

Fortunately, the masterful Marsha Shandur was assigned to help with crafting my story. We talked for over an hour (I was feeling quite lost at this point), then she said

'Okay, I'll call you back in 10 minutes'.

Which she did, and somehow found a way to craft a coherent narrative from the various disparate threads with her storytelling wizardry.

I spent most of Saturday morning nervously pacing in the park, but when the time to share my story came there was an odd sense of serenity (maybe like being in the eye of a storm), and I felt exhilarating waves of elation and exhaustion after it was over.

Q. Where do you feel like your edges in life lie? // From our intimate relationships and creative endeavours to old traumas and physical feats we all have these edges... how might you begin to take tentative steps towards leaning into yours?


📚 Three Thought-Provoking Reads

🎵 1 // Cadence: A System for Organising Human Life

I came across this essay on a ‘system of organizing a human life that works’ by William Van Hecke and resonated with his experimental approach to building a system for getting stuff done. He writes:

"I gradually mutated my own system from that starting point and a pantheon of other inspirations, until the day came that I realized I didn’t practice GTD anymore, but something new. Like the Ship of Theseus, replaced part by part until nothing of the original remained."

‘Cadence’ refers to a ‘chord progression that cathartically resolves a section of music and the theme of the essay is about finding your own life rhythms, making time to check-in, asking what the story arc of your life might be… setting intentions for quests whilst having compassion for your brain and an awareness that we all contain multitudes within. It’s a long-read but well

NB. For more thoughtful approaches to productivity, pair with the excellent book ‘Work Clean’ by Dan Charnas and Taylor Pearson’s ‘How to Prioritise’ essay.

😏 2 // Causing ‘Good Trouble’ with Mr. Chimero

Frank Chimero is the legendary designer whose DO Lecture talk ‘Do things the long hard stupid way’ made an impression on my nearly six years ago. In this feature interview he unpacks some of the unquestioned assumptions and rules many of us carry around work in his uniquely Frankish way:

“Lately, I’ve been calling my answers to that question “Frankball”, so that I remember this is all a game. I’m creating rules for the game so that I can have my little business support the life I want to live… Good trouble is a re-negotiation of the rules, creating a little pocket of autonomy where it is safe to ask yourself the question, "How would I have it if I could choose?"

I loved Frank’s notion of ‘Good Trouble’, it reminds me of an Islamic word, ‘Bid‘ah’ that loosely translates to ‘innovative heresy’ and a productive questioning of dogma… which is what I feel like we need in our society right now.

And as Frank implies, in order to re-negotiate these rules authentically requires that we put down the snow globe of life for long enough to let it settle and pay attention to what appears.

🤯 3 // Panpsychism, Self-hood & The Mystery of Consciousness with Annika Harris

The Astral Hustle with Cory Allen is one of my favourite brain-stretching podcasts and this conversation with Annika Harris is a true gem. They go deep into how consciousness might arise and theories as to why it even exists…

I found it totally fascinating to hear how seriously she considers panpsychism (especially given that she is the partner of Sam Harris) and loved Cory’s lyrical descriptions of how humans are like a ‘biological jazz band’—in that not only do we not have one single subconscious but that it’s more like ‘an infinitely recursive fractal loop of harmonics that resonate to give the illusion of a single note’.


👨‍🏭 Curious Humans Jobs

Seven remote-friendly job openings for the relentlessly curious and borderline unemployable.

🎏 Avaaz campaign director

🚀 Best Self Marketing Director

😴 Product Lead Design to solve sleep

📹 Videographer for Who Gives a Crap

🤼 Senior Organisational Designer at Nobl

🏄‍♂️ Product designer for the World Surf League

💸 Asia manager for the Unreasonable Institute


🤔 Et. Cetera

I double dare you not to clickity-click on all the linkity links!

🎳 Robot bowling

🌊 Work is like water

🤔 Paradoxical words

🐦 A bird made of birds

💞 Desires are infectious

📝 Why write daily haikus

❓ Design questions library

🐙 The octopus origin story

🐶 The evolution of puppy eyes

📆 Disk defrag for your calendar

🥤 8.3bn tons of plastic (illustrated)

💫 DIY subatomic particle detectors

🥗 Redesigning the world’s tech diet

🐬 What are animals are thinking and feeling

🐋 Revolutionary snot collecting marine drones

🍄 The case for pro-environmental psychedelics


📝 Parting Thought…

None of us, regardless of our grit or talent, achieves or becomes anything on our own. Everything we are and do is a collective effort… even when it doesn’t really feel like it.

Credit to Wallace J Nichols for the image + post

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