The Peckyflapper Fund, High-Octane Aquatic Meditation & Finding Your Path in Life.

Plus Four Rabbit Holes I Hope You Fall Into...

Hi Curious Friend!

This newsletter nearly didn't happen. Allow me to explain...

As I leaned in to write these words, an unexpected torrent of salt water erupted from my previously dormant nasal cavities (an awkward occupational hazard of surfing), drenching my keyboard 😲

Recalling from painful experience that laptops + salt water don't mix well, I re-directed the watery cascade and deftly brought an emergency napkin to the scene. Thankfully, the impending salty catastrophe was averted and this newsletter is now safely in your inbox.


Spontaneous nasal leakage aside, I’ve found myself immensely enjoying the process of composing these almost-monthly dispatches. It feels like a genuine privilege to write for a small group of thoughtful friends and enthusiastic humans. So thank you, thank you for lending me your ears and permission to appear in your inbox 🙏


Personal News & Life Updates

🎉 – Announcing... The Peckyflapper Fund >> I’m really excited to share this. The Sophie-inspired intention is (with your help) to give an unexpected £1k gift to someone going through a tough time or attempting to get a social impact project off the ground. Six months have elapsed since Soph passed. I hope this will add to those ever-expanding ripples of delight and joy in the world. Please do take a look and drop me a line if you know someone suitable for nomination.

 🗺️ – What I've been up to >> spending quality time with old friends, sketching tentative summer travel plans and exploring the dark arts of mobile photography(the iPhone X camera is so good it almost feels like cheating!) Yet as is so often the case, the real craft isn't understanding focal points or how to use PS Express apps, but rather learning how to ‘see’ (I've included six of my favourite shots at the bottom of this newsie).

🐠 – Taking a deep breath >> Five intensely intriguing days were spent exploring the limits of my lungs and (eventually) finding an exhilarating stillness 30 meters underwater as part of a freediving course. I'm now hooked on this ancient form of aquatic high-octane meditation(related: Jago is an exquisitely filmed documentary from a Maptia contributor, told entirely from the perspective of an 80 year old freediving sea nomad called 'Rohani', whose tribe according to a fascinating Nat Geo article have genetically adapted for free-diving).

🤔 – Right now I'm thinking about >> prompted by a tweet from a fellow curious human, I’ve been pondering how Great Art (in the broadest sense of the word) literally ‘tunes us up’, and how, as an aspiring writer myself, Hemingway's dictum of ‘writing one true sentence’ feels possible to the degree that we are ‘tuned in’ to our senses and able to pay exquisite attention to the stories around us.

💭 – Words that resonated >> for those of you also mid-transition, navigating uncertain waters and feeling on the edge of ‘The Great Unknown’, maybe copy these words from Joseph Campbell down and slip them into your back pocket:

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.”
– Joseph Campbell

To my mind, Campbell is referring to what Alan Watts coined as the ‘element of irreducible rascality’ of life, i.e. all that subverts our entrenched need for certainty and permanence. The challenge I'm facing (and I know many of you are too) is seeking comfort in that disconcerting groundlessness of all things. Whatever fragile ground lies beneath your next step I wish you the courage to take it.

Sending all the good vibes & high fives 👋

Jonny

p.s. the intention for this newsletter is to spark conversations, so if you have a thought to share or if you’re new here, please do hit reply and say hi!


Four Rabbit Holes I Hope You Fall Into

1 // How to Pick a Career (That Actually Fits You) >> many of you will know that I inhale anything on Tim Urban's 'Wait But Why' blog, this is his first new post in over a year and – told with the help of his latest character 'The Yearning Octopus' – it's an absolute corker! Not to mention essential reading for anyone in a moment of career path reflection: "The drop from naive overconfidence to realistic humility rarely feels good, but it’s a necessary step toward wisdom.” (related reading: the rise of Modern Polymaths & this tweetstorm on why 'collecting optionality' is hiding).

2 //  Planting seeds for a regenerative economy >> Last month I recommended @KateRaworth's book "Doughnut Economics" and now she is making more waves at TED 2018, challenging us to envision an ecologically sound economy: "Regenerative design embraces biosphere stewardship and recognises that we have a responsibility to leave the living world in a better state than we found … the world's most ingenious people turn boundaries into the source of their creativity." Amen.

3 // Longform Interview with the insightful @CraigMod on writing, publishing, startups, life, and disconnection >> "So I ask myself regularly: Am I maximising this so-called respect for my being alive or not? Does my work pay dividends in making me more empathetic, more curious, kinder, smarter? And the best way I’ve found to say ‘yes’ to this somewhat ridiculous question is to ask if the work, my day to day, moves my heart. And I’ve found the most reliable way to get there is by putting what’s in my head into words." (NB. Craig also writes an exceptionally good ‘Roden Explorers’ newsletter that was part of my inspiration behind Curious Humans)

4 // TED just announced an exciting collaborative philanthropy fund for Bold Ideas >> I’ve written previously about the potential for innovation prizes to create a radical new ideas machine, and this “Audacious Project” feels like it has the potential to bridge the impasse between social entrepreneurship and non-profit fundraising: "The only fundamental rules are: Dream big. And then show us how that dream can come true." Aspiring founders apply here.

Et. Cetera You May Appreciate

👂– a short poem on generous listening.

🤔– Debunking the myth that curiosity killed the cat

🐠– Aqua-pioneers are using fish poo to grow organic veg!?

👨‍🔬– The Scientific Paper is Obsolete (& what might replace it).

📚– Google’s new AI tool let’s you literally ‘ask questions of books’.

🌟– An uplifting ‘cosmic conversation’ that will give you the warm & fuzzies.

🧠– Deep Learning machines are getting eerily close to reading human minds.

🎒– Imagine if you could trade plastic rubbish for wifi & tuition, oh wait, you can!

✏️– Answers to the Proust Questionnaire from a British adventurer (here’s my take).

😲 – Remember: in this moment you're alive & you can always dial up the magic at any time.

Share the curiosity 👉 If you know a friend who might appreciate this newsletter you can share the archive with them here and the signup link is here. I'll leave you with a few attempts of my iPhoneography in Ubud last week 👇