ABOUT THIS EPISODE
In today’s episode, secreted away within this special book-related season, is a rather special conversation, that I have come to look forward to as a tradition.
As we turn again to the deepest night of the year, I rejoin Della Duncan and Manda Scott for a shared solstice offering from The Hive, Accidental Gods, and the Upstream Podcast.
As we come together to reflect on this extraordinary year, we share some of the joys and challenges we’ve faced, the stories we’ve encountered, and what they’ve taught us. We touch on some of the inspiring books, conversations and explorations that have gotten us through, and offer our ideas and visions for what we might create together as we move into 2022.
Recorded on 5th December 2021.
Della is a Renegade Economist who hosts the Upstream Podcast inviting you to unlearn everything you thought you knew about economics. She is also a Right Livelihood Coach, a Senior Fellow of Social and Economic Equity at the International Inequalities Institute in the London School of Economics, the Course Development Manager of Fritjof Capra’s Capra Course on the Systems View of Life, a Senior Lecturer at the California Institute of Integral Studies and Gaia Ed., Co-Founder of the California Doughnut Economics Coalition, and an Alternative Economics Consultant.
Manda is an award-winning novelist, podcaster and smallholder whose life is underpinned by the shamanic dreaming she gave voice to in her Boudica: Dreaming novels. For the past two years, she has been host of the Accidental Gods podcast which originally aimed at fostering conscious evolution and is now leaning more towards finding an inspiring way through to a flourishing future.
- How on Earth: Flourishing in a Not-for-Profit World by 2050 – Jennifer Hinton & Donnie Maclurcan
- Astral Planes, Time, Paradox and Freedom – Ram Das, Here And Now (Podcast)
- The Good Ancestor: How to Think Long Term in a Short Term World – Roman Krznaric
- From What Is, To What If – Rob Hopkins
- The Art of Gathering – Priya Parker
- Throughtopia Masterclass – watch this space!
Produced by Caro C. Written & recorded by Nathalie Nahai © 2021.
Manda: So welcome everybody to the traditional solstice episode of our joint podcast from Upstream and the Hive and Accidental Gods. It’s definitely a tradition now. It’s the second year. I reckon that’s us locked in, so we’re going to be doing this with the rest of our podcasting lives. And it is the solstice. It’s the dark night of the year. It’s the time when daylight is least, night is longest, when our energy sinks most deeply into ourselves and we can look back at the year that’s been and look forward at the year to come and find the balance point between those. And perhaps find the energy of the old year becoming the seed of the new year. So with that, as our basis and our impetus for making this podcast, we felt we’d start with our three core questions. So we’re going to start with Nathalie, because Nathalie’s got a core question that she asks at the start of every Hive podcast, and it felt like a really fitting one to start our three way tradition. So Nathalie, do you want to ask us your question?
Nathalie: So thank you. So the question that I always invite people to have a shot at at the beginning, is ‘what’s happening in the global human psyche right now?’ And it’s a bit of a controversial one because a lot of people are quick to point out differences in opinion on how they conceive of the world, whether it’s a Jungian perspective, a human sort of perspective or something else. But I think it’s an interesting place from which to, I guess, unpick some of the things and where we are, because it brings us together. So a place of community. So for you guys, what do you feel is happening in the global human psyche right now?
Della: One thing that I’m feeling concerned about in the global human psyche, that’s really alive for me right now, is our ability to focus or sense of attention and how that is… Yeah, we’re finding that difficult. This is likely a theme in your podcast and definitely something I’m reading about right now in Johann Hari’s book Stolen Focus. So it’s really on my mind. And yeah, so it’s just this.. Like I read in his book that on average, folks are interrupted pretty much every three minutes, and it’s very unlikely for a human right now to have an hour of uninterrupted time. So just thinking, and then, of course, he also speaks about car accidents. I think one in five car accidents are caused by distracted driving due to cell phones. And so I’m just right now, I’m thinking about my own ability as I watch my relationship with my phone, as I’m reading this book and just thinking about fractured attention or inability to focus. And I’m yeah, mourning that or worried about that. And then the last piece to bring in there is, he says, something like our inability to focus or the fact that we’re having a hard time paying attention means that our ability to problem solve is being impacted or going down. So I know that we’ll get to the challenges of our time and their potential solutions. So yeah, just feeling a concern for the global human psyche’s attention span. And our sense of fractured attention, stolen focus and maybe difficulty focussing on what’s important and what might need our attention right now. Hmm. Manda, what about you? What’s happening in the global psyche for you right now?
Manda: Thank you. That’s really interesting because it leads into where I was going, but I also just wanted to think about that a moment. The fracturing of our attention, and how fast it’s happened. And also whether our attention was ever better. I’m remembering back to when I was a baby writer and I was talking to Val McDermid way back in the days; we were writing on computer, but you know, Google didn’t exist, Facebook didn’t exist, Twitter didn’t exist, and we were talking about the fact that you could play noughts and crosses on your computer and that we would write for five minutes and then we would find ourselves inevitably playing whatever it was we were playing. And I wonder if that happened to Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf? What was it that they stared out of the window at instead? And whether we are actually undergoing neurogenic change, which I think is very likely and very possible, or whether we have always just been distractible. Except under specific circumstances. So I’ve found… I’ve come off Facebook, I switch off email when I’m trying to write now, because I don’t want the email pinging in. I want to be able to focus. But it’s taken me two or three months, I think since starting the book to really get to that point where I could. Because writing a book is problem solving.
It’s where, how, what do I do and when I get stuck. I don’t remember if it always took me this long to get unstuck. Everybody says each book feels like it’s just as hard as the last. So it probably did used to take me longer, or as long. But it feels like it’s possible that we are becoming less able to focus. Except, we went out for lunch today. We just all sat around the dinner table. Nobody had their phones and we talked for an hour, totally focussed on what we were talking about. And I think in the inter human interactions, we can still hold focus and still follow planes of thought and not necessarily get jumped off onto other things. And that feels really important at the moment. So for me, that’s part of where I think the global human psyche seems to be going because we asked ourselves this last year and I’m really interested in how much to me, the splintering of humanity seems to be getting more obvious. So far more people in my own ecosystem are openly saying we need to change the system. Many, many more. Orders of magnitude more than this time last year. But then I occasionally drift into other people’s ecosystems and discover wholly different conversations happening, they might exist on a different planet.
And I’m wondering was that, again, always the case and I just didn’t have the capacity to drift into their ecosystems? Or is it that, along with our attention spans shortening, we’re also in the attention economy and the limbic hijack economy, and that limbic hijack is polarising us. And if that is the case, how are we going to depolarise? Because I don’t think that as a polarised species, we have any chance of finding a way through. And what’s happened this year, for me, is that almost everybody I know is now aware that this is it. We are now at the turning point. There is no way that business as usual is ever coming back. So that feels to me… It’s a moment of extraordinary opportunity, because nobody is trying to pretend nothing’s happening. But I haven’t yet heard the coherence of views of how we get to where we need to go that gives me the confidence that that we can do it. If we don’t have a common plan, we won’t have common action and then we won’t get there. Does that make sense as a kind of coherent concept? Hmm. So Nathalie, what do you think is happening in the global human psyche? You asked so many people and you hear so many interesting answers.
Nathalie: I think the easiest way I can think of to answer that would probably be just be a reckoning. I think we’re going through a giant reckoning. And I think it looks different depending on people’s context. But clearly, no one is untouched by the fact that we’re going through an extraordinary amount of change, in what feels like a very short amount of time. Even though we’ve known about these issues for such a long while. You know, if you look at issues of tribalism and politicisation of populations against one another, you can look throughout history to track that arc. Or if you look at the climate crisis, you know, it’s not new. We’ve had the knowledge for a long time. I think the felt sense now is much more visceral. It’s much more present. It’s happening now, even though people are still trying to dig their heads in the sand. Whether it’s protecting themselves by thinking if you accrue enough wealth, you can just jettison yourself to Mars, which, by the way, way more bloody difficult to set up a habitable planet with a small population when you’ve just come through lockdown. Like who would want to aim for that compared to what we have, you know, beautiful homeostasis on a planet that we’re hopefully not going to ruin too far? So anyway, I think the thing that I think that is most present for me is a sense that finally we we are coming home to kind of a felt realisation of ‘we need to figure out a way through this’. And alongside that, the other thing that I find quite alarming and this is only in pockets of the world, but it’s happening in pockets of the world where there’s the greatest wealth and potentially the most power and influence.
Is this extraordinary context in which it’s becoming or has become; and I don’t know where the tipping point lies, again if it comes to sort of open back up again. But this narrowing of public discourse, this kind of way of just shutting down conversations on some of the most poignant, important and emotionally powerful and potent conversations that we need to be having. So whether we’re talking about the safety and well-being and validation and belonging of certain groups, whatever that group identity might be. Or whether we’re talking about people’s decisions to get vaccinated or not to get vaccinated. You know, things that people, you know, we show up in the world, we make choices based on mostly an intention to be well and to do good. I generally have an optimistic view of humanity and the fact that we now can’t discuss difference in a generative way, in a respectful way, I find quite saddening. And yet at the same time, this year in particular, I have had so many small closed door virtual conversations and also physically in presence with people, about how other people are also lamenting this. And actually activating conversations with people in smaller groups, under this kind of psychologically safe container where they say, OK, this is a problem, we’re going to talk in a different way. And so I don’t know, there’s a lot of tumult happening and I think a lot of green shoots, but it just feels like the green shoots are underground and haven’t yet been made visible to the broader public arena of social media, et cetera. That’s quite a rambling answer, but I hope that makes some sort of coherent sense.
Manda: It really does, and it’s occurring to me, actually, even as we go, that we could just actually spend the entire podcast discussing this one question, and it would potentially be really interesting. But I think we can also unfold it in the other question. So Della, your question is ‘what do you find when you go upstream?’, which is the name of your podcast? So take that and do with it what you will?
Della: Ok. This is the question. Sometimes when I ask it, I ask folks to first tune into what is breaking your heart right now or what is of great concern for you? And then to feel into that, to really allow ourselves to tap into that grief or that, you know that emotion behind it. And then to go on a journey upstream to what are the root causes of that suffering or of that pain, as a way of potentially unlocking some sort of insight around what we might be able to do to alleviate that. So Nathalie, I’ll start with you. You know, maybe you can either pick one aspect that’s that’s concerning you or breaking your heart and then go upstream from that. Or you can hold all of the difficulty or challenges of our time right now that you’re witnessing and experiencing and go upstream. And what might you see right now? What have you seen over this past year as some of the root causes?
Nathalie: That’s such a good question. If I think about all of the things that… All the behaviours we are engaging in, that are damaging ourselves and the living world. I think a lot of it comes down to finding ways, albeit kind of destructive ways, to cope. So to cope with a lack of belonging, or cope with a sense of fun, to cope with a sense of uncertainty or fear. And I think that if we’re thinking about what are the things that we’re trying to cope with, or deal with, or protect ourselves from; when you peel back the layers, whether it’s through systems or relationships or experiences, I think a lot of what generates these coping behaviours that are perhaps not helpful is trauma. So I know in the last year, two years, we’ve heard a lot of people talk about trauma through the experience of race, through the experience of gender identity, through the experience of colonisation and many, many more. And I think that that for me, it’s kind of where the trauma comes from is one question. Whether it’s systematised because of the choices that people have made cumulatively through generations, or whether it’s something which happened on a shorter time scale in the span of a life which is embedded within those systems. I think trauma is one of these key things that we need to look at and think, OK, well, if we want to be able to have rich, imaginative, creative lives that enable us to confront and to creatively come up with solutions to the biggest problems, how do we free that and make that possible? And I think a lot of the answer lies in naming and working with trauma on different levels to give people a sense that they have the agency and the capability to envision a different future for themselves and to experience something different. That’s kind of, yeah, that’s what I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. Hmm.
Della: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. Bringing trauma and healing into this conversation. Beautiful. Manda, what about you? What is it that’s on your heart-mind right now? And when you go upstream, what are some root causes that you’re that you’re finding and wanting to work with?
Manda: So when we talked about these questions, I had a different answer. But with asking ‘what is breaking my heart right now?’, then that has… It’s centred me somewhere else. I read an article in The Guardian yesterday, the day before, about the number of species in Britain that have moved onto the red list. So House Martins, Green Finches, things that when I was growing up were everywhere. Are now in danger of extinction. And I find that desperately upsetting. And then it takes me off into well, yes, but the oceans are dying and, you know, the GOES paper and all of this sort of stuff. That we are so close to tipping points that we just do not understand. We don’t know where they’ll take us. We have no concept and I’ve had conversations on the podcast with highly intelligent individuals who will sit there going, ‘well, yeah, but we’re not actually near any real tipping point. So things might be sliding. There might be a bit bad, but we’re not actually, you know, in our lifetimes going to see bad stuff’. And I’m thinking bad stuff is happening now! What are you talking about? And so going upstream from that, the only way I can find a place of balance…there are two. One is simply lock into the web of life and go, OK, I’m here, whatever you need from me, I will endeavour to do it. And hope that something much, much, much wiser than me has a sense of a bigger pattern. But on a more prosaic level I go back to Donella Meadows’ 12 Levers of Change and how high can I go up that list and have rational, useful impact? And the second to top one is changing the paradigm, and the top one is abandon old paradigms.
And I’m really working on what that means and how we might do it, because let’s assume Donella Meadows was incredibly bright and got it right. Anything less than that is not going to work now. So, all of the tweaks that we might make: I really am throwing myself into regenerative agriculture, I want the whole of this area to be, you know, want to look out of the window and not see another monoculture for the rest of my life. But that’s, you know, at best, midway down the list. How are we going to take our entire species to the top of the list very fast? And so I’m looking upstream at the kinds of people that I think are endeavouring to do this, and there aren’t many. I’m listening a lot to Daniel Schmachtenberger and Tristan Harris and thinking they’re getting very close, and they’re thinking the kinds of thoughts that I think might work. I’m looking at Daniel Thorsen and his group who are wanting to create monasteries, not necessarily Buddhist, effectively atheist or at least agnostic, monasteries. 500 around the world where people will go and train and create someone who could step into any situation and be a source of harmony, someone to whom any amount of power could be given. And they would use it wisely, and that seems to me that that level of thinking is where we need to be at, so when I look upstream, that’s where I’m aiming for and everything else is falling in the water, you know, distal to that, really?
Della: Yeah, thank you both. I’ll pretty much add to what you’re both sharing because I really love what you both said. When I’ve mapped this journey, sometimes when I give in person talks or lessons, I’ll map the upstream journey as I understand it right now, and I will include trauma and also inflammation. That was an addition this year from reading a book called Inflamed by Rupa Marya and Raj Patel. Really wonderful book, and they connect trauma and inflammation and inflammation on all the levels in our bodies, but also on our planet and in our interactions with one another, conflicts and disagreements. So trauma and inflammation, and then going upstream from that supremacies. And supremacies plural. So, white supremacy, patriarchal supremacy, capitalism, capital supremacy over the 99 percent. And eco supremacy or human supremacy over ecology. And then going upstream from that; separation, right? And that lack or that forgetting of our interconnectedness and oneness. And so I mapped that and that relates to what you both shared. And then one key thing that I heard this year that’s been really impactful on this upstream question is from Ram Dass or I heard it from Ram Dass: the six planes of consciousness; six planes of consciousness where they’re kind of like channels that we can tune reality to.
So there are six realities that all are true and all exist. They’re just relative realities. So the first one is the physical plane, the physical reality. The three of us are sizes, shapes, textures, a plant’s colour, shape, texture, so the physical realm. The second is the realm of our identities. So our socially constructed identities, you know, race, class, gender, socioeconomic status, citizenship, also our personality identities, our zodiac symbols are, you know, just all the ways that we categorise and differentiate, which can be beautiful and cultural and celebratory and can be a way of separating and judgement as well. And then the third is that of our callings or our mythic, poetic identities. You know, that we are truth seekers or that I’m a renegade economist, right? These kind of identities in a more poetic or more mythic way. And then we get into the realm of the fourth. The fourth channel is meeting being to being. So our Beingness. A tree being, you two as beings. That we are simply beings having this conversation across space. And then the next plane, the fifth plane is the realm of oneness or interconnectedness. Recognising when I look into your eyes, I see myself looking back at me.
It’s that ecological self, for example. And then the last plane is the plane of nothingness. Because oneness is the view from Twoness, but within oneness is the sensation or experience of emptiness or nothingness. So why I say this, is because when I go upstream now, that has been really helpful. To know that our physical realities, our identities, our mythic, poetic callings are real. And yet when we get stuck in them because they’re quite sticky, when we really overly identify with that reality, then those are the realms of separation. And when we also recognise oneness, nothingness and beingness, we break ourselves out or awaken from the separation and we can live within a more interconnected experience. So it’s not to only live in those higher planes or those other planes. That would be probably very difficult to live in them every day. But to know that they exist and to recognise that we’re flipping channels and for myself to not get stuck in the stickiness of the separation, identities or planes. So I’m just sharing that because that’s a delicious insight around what happens when you go pretty far upstream. So the view of realities or planes or planes of consciousness. So I just want to share that with you both.
Manda: Gosh, there is so much to unpack. You know, honestly, next year, I think we should just do these three and never do anything else because yeah, there’s a lot we could reflect back on that. But if we go back to our third question, which is your Conscious mind, which is ‘what are you here for?’ Then I think that arises. For all of us, probably, it certainly sounds to me like it arises out of those. So Della, do you want to carry on straight on into that? From where you got to with that, where does that take you in terms of what are you here for, now, in this solstice?
Della: Yeah. So one way to view this time that I appreciate and I know you both know as well, is that this is the time of the Great Turning. And one way to view that is turning towards life in every moment of every day; in our ways of being and internally and our systems. And I had this thought this morning as I was contemplating our call that what if there was also a great tuning that was happening? Beneath or in addition to this Great Turning. Because in order to turn, one needs to tune. And what I mean by that, it relates to the Donella Meadows highest leverage point that you mentioned, you know, being unattached to paradigms. And it also relates to this Ram Dass teaching around relative truths. So it’s like holding truths to be relative, means tuning into that which is true right now. And just to share a story related to this, I heard Gandhi was doing a march, you know, a protest march against British imperialism, and it was the first day of the march. And then after the first day, he stopped and said, We, I no longer want to do this march. And his lieutenants said, You can’t do that! You can’t stop something that’s already in motion. All these hundreds and thousands of people are already marching. And he said something like “My commitment is not to consistency, my commitment is to truth and I am not God, so I do not know absolute truth. I only know my experience of relative truth. So I am committed to relative truth consistently, as it shows up for me”. So what I’m hearing by that is like, to be a part of the Great Turning in every moment, in every day and in our systems and efforts and actions. We need to tune in constantly, to be able to sense into what is right right now. Because again, there is no absolute truth, it’s just this relative truth. I’m exploring this in my own thinking and own mind, but I am here for that tuning in and the turning that comes when we tune in.
Manda: Magical.Thank you. So, Nathalie, what are you here for just now?
Nathalie: I’ve been dreading this question because I never really know how to answer this one. I feel like it’s very much an unresolvable question in many respects. And but maybe that’s part of the answer. I think part of the the thing that I’m here for is to seek and to search different ways of showing up. And I think when you’re someone who has possibly multiple ways of engaging with the world; So I have the art, there’s the music, there’s the writing, there’s the the speaking, workshops and such. I think the challenge is to figure out what are the things that interconnect these different capacities or skills or ways of creating. And this year kind of, to my surprise, I think in some ways; I haven’t done much music in a long while. I’ve realised that actually one of the things that I enjoy the most and I learnt this when I was actually away on a regenerative agriculture retreat, near Murcia on the south of Spain. We were there for an intensive crash course, and at the end of the week, people were sharing, you know, how this is going to impact. How they were going to go out into their lives. Some of them have very big influence in terms of the social platforms they have or the money or the power they have. And I was sitting there thinking, Oh my God, what can I possibly offer? What am I here for? Like, why am I here on this course? Why did I choose to bring this into my life? And I realised actually what I’m here for, is to create in some way more intimate spaces for change making. So to unlock, whether it’s through music or through the arts, or through conversations like this, to unlock deep moments of intimate change, which I might not even be conscious of, but that someone somewhere might hear a conversation or hear a piece of music, and that that might move something in them to allow them to wake up to something that they want to express.
Because I think one of the things that is becoming so apparent to me is that we’re so busy and numb and distracted to the point that was made earlier, that it’s really hard coming from that place of retreat to then plug back into the main frame of what is happening in the world right now. How do I feel? How does the web of life feel? What’s the surge that’s coming through? You know, just so I think that’s part of maybe what I’m here for, is to help people to feel that. And I’m not really sure yet what that looks like. But I think that’s kind of that’s the answer that I’m circling towards right now. So, yeah, Manda, how about you?
Manda: Just at this very moment, I’m here to make sure the cat doesn’t tread on the keyboard and cut us all up. The joys of recording from home! It’s interesting because this is a question that I ask myself every morning. So it’s it’s my question, and I had never thought of it as being uncomfortable. Are we getting a sound of a cat purring on the microphone?
Nathalie: No, but if we did, it would be lovely.
Manda: Ok, that’s fine.
Della: That’s not a bad sound.
Manda: So by the time this goes out, because obviously we’re recording it a little ahead of the solstice, the answer may be different. Because for us at home, what the solstice is for – the winter solstice – is to sit with the Fire and exactly ask that question. And this time last year, what came was that I needed to find generosity of spirit, which was not a phrase that meant a whole lot to me on a tangible level. I could kind of process it intellectually, but never are the words that come out of the Fire designed to be processed intellectually. So I spent the first half of the year, really working out what generosity of spirit meant. While also studying homeopathy, quite hard, it’s quite an intellectual thing. And I got to the exam in July and just about two weeks ahead of the exam, I had a shamanic experience which led to the book that I’m writing, which I couldn’t start because I was studying for an exam. And I started it on the 10th of August. And at the time of recording, I’ve just about hit 80000 words, which is which is not quite going in four months, actually. And it feels like at the moment what I live for is the book. I get incredibly edgy when somebody requires something else of me – other than podcasting, because that kind of feels what I’m here for as well.
But otherwise, you know, don’t take me away from my keyboard or I might explode. Becomes quite relevant. I thought we were going to have to go out this morning and I got a migraine basically just with the ‘oh no, I can’t. I can’t do this. You can’t make me go out. I need to write. I spent all night working out what to do with the last problem’. But so at the moment, that, actually. And I don’t know why. It’s not a book that I had imagined. I had finished telling everybody that I was never going to write again. And yeah, exactly. Famous last words. And literally two weeks before I’d had, I had a friend, Karen, and I sat at the table downstairs and went ‘books are just too slow. They’re not going to change the world in time. And why would I bother? And anyway, I broke doing the last one, and I don’t want to break again’. And this one isn’t breaking me. It’s good. So at the moment, what I’m here for is to finish the book.
Nathalie: That’s so exciting.
Manda: It is actually, I love it. I love it. I really love it. Even when I’m just, you know, getting no sleep and spending hours on on the same scene. Like now, it’s still, and I have no idea where it’s going, except that we are writing the revolution between us. Because I have got to the ‘okay guys. Incremental change not going to happen.’ Anyway. Having explored our three core questions, I’m now going to hand over chair of the multiple podcast to Della, who has some more questions to explore. So Della, over to you.
Della: I would love to know about where you all have come from this year in podcasting. So what have been the threads? What have been the guiding questions? What have been some of the highlights, the insights that you’ve come to? Yeah. Were there any themes or anything at all for the good of solstice and to carry into 2022? Nathalie, I’ll start with you. I would love to hear. Yeah. Tell us about the journey that you’ve come to in your podcast over this past year.
Nathalie: So. So this year’s been a bit of a strange one for the podcast because back in January, I was knee deep in writing my new book Business Unusual. And so as part of that research, I reached out to quite a lot of people to look at how values, changing ideas around who we want to be in the world; psychological safety, all of these different themes are showing up in the world of business. And how we might use a deeper set of principles of guidance to create meaningful business lives that we can be proud of. And so the the podcast started the year on the one hand, recording all of this business themed conversation. And on the other hand, looking at things in the public facing podcast alongside this, like eco psychology, looking at resilience, sustainability, looking at rituals, embodied cognition. Looking at stories of transformation, surveillance, you know, it kind of spanned the whole remit from from technology through to transcendence. It was really quite a broad brush. But one of the things I did notice, which was very interesting, both in the recording of the current season, which is coming out now and in the more traditional episodes that longer term listeners would be familiar with, is that a lot of the themes that we’re discussing and that you’ve discussed in both of your podcasts, are now entering mainstream boardrooms, mainstream consumer research and, you know, also behaviours that people thought might take longer to express themselves, especially when we’re thinking about issues around the pandemic.
So people being perhaps worried about finances and actually we’re seeing that many more people now rather than tightening their pockets or spending in a way that’s just utilitarian. A lot of them are much more keen to spend in a way that reflects who they want to be in the world in the future that they want to build. And so I think the main theme for me has really been, how do we find integration and voice to the values that we care deeply about, not just in our personal lives, but also in our social and our business lives? And that’s something which has given me a lot of cause for hope because I see these areas becoming increasingly interconnected and the conversations bridging these different spheres. Thank you. So how about you, Della?
Della: I think when I tune into thinking about the podcast, The Upstream podcast over this past year, I want to start with gratitude. Because first of all, Robert Raymond is my co-person, my co-comrade in the whole journey. So I definitely want to bring his name in and just appreciate all the conversations and work on the documentaries that he did as well. And also, I’ve just been feeling recently just how grateful I am that folks are just willing to be in conversation in the podcasts that that we’re doing. Just really grateful for their time and sharing their wisdom and all the artists and musicians, just the whole constellation of folks that that make it possible. And so just feeling a lot of gratitude there, and we’ve also come into towards the end of this year of area of consistency, we’ve wanted to do more sharing a conversation every other week and getting into a rhythm around the documentaries. So we were able to do four documentaries this year. One on Homo-economicus, which was a very upstream one around who are we as humans? Who does mainstream economics say we are as humans? This Homo-economic view, rational, self-interested being? And who might we also be or be otherwise, that might be more supportive for a thriving planet and people? And that was really a deep journey and beautiful one.
Then feminism for the 99 percent and abolish the police were also deliciously fun, and I learnt a lot through the process and also felt more topical, more current. And I appreciated that really tapping into the global psyche or, particularly nationally in the U.S., what’s happening there. So that was that was really fun as well. And then we ended the year with looking at the Occupy movement, ten years later. And I remember one quote from that was “Occupy never stopped, just caught its breath”. So just yeah, appreciating the threads over time and seeing how Occupy and We Are the 99 percent and criticisms or challenges to mainstream economics in Wall Street are showing up today. So that’s been really fun. And I’ll just highlight one other big theme from the year; has been work; looking at work. We had Devin Price come on, speaking about laziness does not exist. Shared with a similar theme by Sarah Jaffe, who wrote a book called Work Won’t Love You Back How Our Jobs Keep US Exploited, Exhausted and Alone. And also Ron Purser, a book on MC Mindfulness. How Mindfulness became the new capital of spirituality.
And these books and these conversations were huge for me because I and part of what I do is I work as a right livelihood coach. Which is where I try to make sense of the alternative post capitalist new economic world lessons, stories in people’s lives. And all these conversations around work, rethinking work, challenging perceptions of work. It just really made me shift some of my worldviews around work. And yeah, just hold it, hold it differently. So it’s still an alive question or conversation for me. And I think right now I’m just holding the tension. I’m holding the tension. That work can be a place of meaning and contribution and our spirituality in action. That’s one way that I like to think about it. And it can also be a space where a lot of folks feel exploited, exhausted and alone; and how our systems really create that. So I’m holding the both and in that regard, but it’s certainly been a big theme for me, our relationship to work both systemically and personally. Manda, what about you? What have been the themes of your podcast this year? What were your guiding questions and what are you maybe still wondering?
Manda: So the first thing I’m wondering is could we have another podcast, the three of us where we discuss that, that you’ve just been talking about? You know, I’m feeling an entire series, just the three of us talking because there’s so much in that; about what is work, why do we work? What is it for? How did it arise? Where is it going?
Nathalie: I’d love that.
Manda: But leaving that aside for when we do get back together, soon. So this year felt very different moving into the podcast. We started at the solstice two years ago and the the early podcast was there to support and provide a framework for the Accidental Gods as a wider space, and I was really focussed on Conscious Evolution and how we could help people get there. And over time that evolved. Partly it evolved because I realised that I was potentially over-facing people a little. Expecting them all to just leap in and evolve themselves consciously, instantly. Because some people have actual jobs, day jobs that are exhausting and leave them feeling quite isolated. And that what I wanted the podcast to become, then, was to give people a sense of agency. So one of the things that really impacted me on the first year of the podcast was Micki Kaftans analysis of our current situation as being one of scarcity, separation and powerlessness.
And it seemed to me that if the podcast could bring in people who either had a view on how that arose, or more, were living lives that were not that. Then we could help people to have that sense of agency and possibility. And I didn’t come to it, probably as lucidly as that, but that grew over the year. And then of course, we had COP26 in October and it was happening in Glasgow, which is where I grew up. And so a lot of the second half of the year seemed to focus in on carbon and focus away again of ‘Here it is. What are we doing as we lead up to it?’ And then ‘Oh really, was that it?’ As as we came away that desperate sense of just utter disappointment and devastation really at how little was was done there. But in the meantime, being really excited about the things that seemed to be happening on the fringes. Kind of like the Occupy movement is alive, in many ways, it seems to me in what a lot of what the youth of XR are doing. So. In trying to reflect that on the podcast, I got to the point of bringing in people who I had thought would be quite advanced in their thinking of how did we get here and where are we going? And I realised that next year, starting now, how did we get here and the critique of the present is probably done.
That everybody, I got to go going “Ok, yes, we get this is broken, it’s broken. So how do you see the future? You know, 10 years from now, if we get it right. What does it look like?” And that’s not clear yet. You know, it suddenly becomes hand waving and smoke and mirrors, and people start talking about consciously evolving and community, and we need to talk to each other. And nobody is saying how we do that, actually, how. And then what it looks like when we’ve done it. I have yet to pin somebody down to what seems like a book that I could write. You know, give me a vision and I’ll write the book about it. Not happening. And so really, for me, that’s what I’m heading to. And Nathalie, I think we’re going to come to this now, is where are we going? And where we’re going is, by this time next year when we three have this conversation again,I want that one nailed down. I don’t obviously not all of the options, but enough options that we can have a really clear picture of how we could be if we get it right, how we get there and what it looks like. So that’s does that answer your question?
Della: It does. Yeah, thank you. And I just want to share one reflection to what you’re saying, Manda. I was leading a retreat recently and somebody said, Gosh, why can’t we live like this all the time? You know, the the singing together and meditation and learning and helpfulness and co-creation and, you know, grief and ritual, all the things. And it reminded me of something someone else has said. And a fellow Schumacher student who was talking about festivals as a place where we embody the new economy. So just one kind of maybe wondering is when we’re on retreats or in festivals. Are they ways that we start to embody or that to create a glimpse of how we may want to live more generally? And I mean, the ones that are more like, there’s a lot of reciprocity and folks are sharing with one another. So I just want to share that as a possible possible thread for us to look at in the next year.
Manda: And the thing about that is that there’s no work. Or there is work, but it’s work that everybody chooses to do to make the festival or the retreat or, you know, you and I both met at Schumacher, which again, I spent most of my time there going, Why are we not living like this all the time? You know, I want to live in community because this is the best that it could be. And there was work, but it was work for the community, within the community, by the community. And I think what you said earlier about work being the thing that destroys us and breaks us is is key and core. And how can we change that and still have a world that moves? So anyway, that’s yeah, there’s so much in those guys. We so should be doing a whole series on this. Anyway. We were then going to move, Nathalie, you were going to chair now a bit about the rest. Over to you.
Nathalie: So with all of these big questions that we’re weaving into the mix, the question for the future is ‘what are the ones that you’re going to bring into the new year? What are your focusses in terms of your enquiry or questions as we turn into 2022? Della, would you like to have a go?
Della: Yeah. So a guiding question that may lead into a gift and invitation for 2022. One of them is I’m really deliciously exploring enoughness and contentedness in my own life and with coaching clients and consulting clients. And also systemically one person’s work who I really want to uplift: Jen Hinton from the Post Growth Institute and Donnie McClure in their book How on Earth; flourishing in a Not for Profit World by 2050. So just this concept of what would it look like to have a world beyond profit or where all profit income, you know, extra excess is harnessed and redirected to the social good or environmental good. Mission driven causes. And that that can happen on all levels, including our own personal level. So I’m again really exploring gratitude, for enoughness, when I do feel that and abundance. And then also, how do we create that systemically? So I think that’s a question that I’m playing with, is what is enough? What is sufficiency? What is contentedness? And how can we recognise it, appreciate it and then redistribute when we’ve gone over that? Yeah. So that’s a question for me, coming into 2022 is enoughness sufficiency, contentedness, and I guess an invitation for those listening is to explore that in their own lives.
Nathalie: So, OK, so building on that question, what would your gift or vision and/or vision be for the new year?
Della: I think if I return to some of the themes of this conversation, one gift would be quality of attention or attention with quality focus. The ability to spend time with those we’d love to spend time with or on projects or problems that we’d love to spend time on. So uninterrupted-ness I would wish for for all in 2022. And one resource would be returning to that lesson by Ram Dass the six planes of consciousness. I’ve been really enjoying the Be Here Now podcast, which are just a series of his lectures over the years, so I would give that gift to folks who might resonate and enjoy as I have done that podcast in those words
Nathalie: And Manda, how about you? What’s the question or questions that you’re left with that you’d like to bring to the New Year?
Manda: I kind of went over those. Because my real question, I think, Solstice notwithstanding for 2022, is what does it look like if we get it right? How does it feel and how did we get there? I want every bit of fiction in our worlds, our television, the movies, novels, theatre, songs, poetry, letters to the Parish newspaper. I want them all to be full of visions of a world where we get it right, because otherwise what I’m surrounded by is… Another cat. Even bigger and more likely to tread on the keyboard… Is… People are afraid of a future because we have been inundated with really clear visions of how bad it could be if we get it wrong. We’re very good at those. And for all of our lives, we’ve had visions of consumer capitalism and you know, everybody knows what it looks like if you get to be super rich, because pretty much everything shows us that. You know, most of the heroes in most of the things that I watched as a kid didn’t have day jobs because they were rich enough not to.
And instead, they swan around the world doing heroic and wonderful things. And we need not to have either of those. So I really… My real push for the whole 2022 will be how can we create an entire generation of creative people creating visions of what will work? So my gift for 2022 that we’re working towards is the thrutopia masterclass, which I have mentioned on the Accidental Gods podcast more than once and which I hope we will be able to launch very soon after this podcast by the New Year, for sure, all being well. So that we can create this. I want a hybrid between a think tank and a writing masterclass. Because what I’ve discovered writing the book is that I couldn’t have done it without the podcast feeding me ideas, and I want lots of more concrete ideas to feed into the people who want to write them. And it doesn’t matter if these are people who’ve never written before or, you know, people who write all the time. We have to start generating stuff that’s not predicated on business as usual. So so that
Nathalie: So questions and gifts. I think if I was going to bring questions to the new year, I mean, some of them would be similar to the ones from last year. So I guess in in the evolving context that we find ourselves, how do we live and work and love in such a way that brings a sense of depth and a sense of hope and purpose? Because I think the hope aspect, especially when we are surrounded by so much bleakness, it’s very easy to become overcome and overwhelmed by a sense of loss of control, a sense of loss of agency. So hope is really important. But then also, I’m increasingly curious about asking how we can gather in meaningful ways and draw upon our strengths as communities to drive change and envision a better future. Because I’ve realised that, you know, one of the things that we’ve spoken about in this particular conversation is collective vision. Bringing people together, doing things at scale. When you are in retreat or you are at a festival, there with others and particularly in highly individualised societies, it can be very tricky to make that jump from what do I/me now need to do, versus what can we do together over a longer stretch of time? And so I think that’s something that I’m really curious about. Is how can we bring people together to gather meaningfully and to draw on one another’s strengths and visions and imaginations to create possibilities that weren’t there before? And then in terms of a gift which is related to that for 2022, I’ve had the good fortune of reading three phenomenal books one after the other, which doesn’t always happen.
You know, you pick up a book like this is going to be amazing. And then halfway through, you’re like, Oh, can’t get that time back. But one of the three books that I have been reading is The Good Ancestor; How to think long term in a short term world, which is by philosopher Roman Krznarich. And it’s a very rich, practical, very inspiring book that explores how we might reinvent everything from democracy and culture to economics and communities to become good ancestors. And he talks about six key strategies that we can use to think long term. And the book is furnished with these wonderful examples of people doing this in the real world, so it’s super tangible. And for me, it does give me a sense of what can happen in a community, giving hope and a sense of purpose. And the other two books that I think are really worth mentioning, one which has been mentioned by both of you, I think, in the past. Rob Hopkins’ From what is to What If, which is magnificent. So if you’re listening to this and you want some inspiration and hope, join the club and read that one. It’s wonderful. And the third book was The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, which I found to be also super interesting and practical. So those would be my gifts for the New Year. And in terms of vision, finding ways to gather in person and online with a purpose, with a desire to be creative, to speak freely and candidly, and to explore some of these questions. How can we do things differently?
Manda: Yes, thank you. Because although we could, I really think, spend the rest of the day and probably the week talking to each other, we are pretty much at the end. But I just wanted to check before we finished. Della, did you have anything that you wanted to say that anything else had brought up?
Della: Yeah, thank you for that invitation. There is something. One thing that you and I have spoken about Manda and actually was your gift to the world last year. It was a universal basic income. When I relistened, it was the universal basic income for all. And one thing that we’ve spoken about is fully automated luxury communism. And I just want to uplift from a recent conversation that actually Robert did with Cory Doctorow. He said something like a UBI is not likely because of the climate crisis. We’re going to need so many folks to be moving entire communities from areas that are affected by wildfire or severe drought or ecosystem collapse or flooding. And so we’re actually going to need a lot of effort and a lot of work. And so I’m feeling called to share that, yes, we need to change certain things around work. And I also feel like there’s something around our relationship to work. So finding joy in it and I don’t mean putting on I don’t mean mc-mindfulness, I don’t mean putting on a happy face in an exploitative or extractive job. What I mean, though, is seeing our ways of helping one another, our contributions as an area that we can have pleasure in and enjoyment in.
So you know it’s interesting Manda what you said about work. But then you also said that when you write, you know, you’re feeling so called to write and it’s why you’re here. So I’m just reminded of how sometimes work feels like work and sometimes work doesn’t feel like work. So I guess I’m just again exploring that concept of work and knowing that there’s going to be a lot of work to do as we engage in this just transition or the great turning, however we want to frame this time. So how can we find a joy and even a pleasure or deliciousness? Maybe it’s about seeing it as ritual or as gift giving or in the spirit of generosity? But just wanted to share that invitation as we look to not a world where we’re all going to receive a UBI and be able to relax. Not that that’s not what you’re saying, but that we’re… I want all of our needs to be met and to see that our contributions and efforts are meaningful and enjoyable.
Manda: Nathalie, did you have anything?
Nathalie: Not really. I’m just always happy listening to you two, quite honestly. Now, maybe there is one thing, I think one thing that I would suggest, maybe because it relates directly back to our ability to feel and to imagine and to create, is to ask, you know, if you’re listening and you’re thinking, Well, how do I tap into that? I would love to offer you the invitation to just try something that you find play in, and it could be something as simple as doing a cheeky pottery class, which I have found I have an absolute rampant adoration for. Not necessarily that good, but it really makes me happy and it makes me feel very connected. So something that you enjoy that you find play and that ignites your creativity even in a little way, because I think what we need is the kindling. And so few of us lack that kindling and day to day life that if you can start there, then wonderful things can come.
Manda: Yay. Thank you. And we were talking about books, and Della reminded me I read a book recently called The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard, and it’s fantasy fiction. It’s huge. It’s about 900 pages long. Maybe not quite that long, but it’s big. And and it felt like having the most amazing holiday because it’s set in this glorious set of worlds that she describes very beautifully. And a lot of it is in something quite akin to our south seas. And the basic plot and this is not a spoiler, it’s on the back cover is that an indigenous person from the South Seas has become the senior assistant, the hands of the emperor to the person who is the emperor of worlds and has supreme power. And this indigenous individual wants to change the world for the better and partway through they bring in UBI and I was so happy reading this. Somebody actually created this huge, huge world. And she’s written multiple novels set in this world and they’ve got a UBI and they’ve worked it through, and they’ve talked through the problems with all the people who really didn’t want it to happen, and they’re showing it in action and it’s beautiful. So I would offer the Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard, along with the much deeper things that Nathalie and Della have both authored. Because I think, this is the thing. I listened to Cory Doctorow, who is one of my absolute superheroes, and I thought, No, no, you’ve completely misunderstood UBI. No, because first of all, you could be right we have to relocate every coastal city, 20 miles inwards, which is what he was saying.
He’d have to persuade a lot of people that that was really necessary, and I’m kind of interested in the conversations that would lead to that. But it would have to be done by people who chose to do it. We have to step away from work being a form of slavery to being something that brings us joy, or there’s no point. So on that, we were going to end, because it’s the solstice with a small space for you, listening to reflect inwards if you want to. And if it’s safe, please, if you’re driving a car operating heavy machinery or power tools in charge of. Small children, anything like that. Switch off now and come back later when you’ve got some peace and quiet and time on your own. And if you’ve got that, then settle down. Make sure you can hear us clearly. Feet on the floor somewhere peaceful. Switch your phone off because you’re going to focus for a couple of minutes. And here we go.
So settle into your physical body, feel your feet on the floor. And your seat on the chair of your sitting. If you’re lying, feel the places that make contact with the floor and through it with the Earth. However you make contact, send roots down into the Earth. At this time of the dark nights, feel your heart connect to the heart of the Earth. And then both connect to the heart of the universe. You are the connexion from the heavens to the Earth and the Earth to the heavens. And as the Sun sinks on the shortest day, as the night rises, as the time of reflection moves in. What have you learnt from the past year? What were its joys? It’s sorrows. It’s moments of challenge. How did you overcome them if you did? Where were the moments of settling and peace? And for what were you absolutely grateful? And as the dark rises, as the only spark is the fire. As we settle into the peace of the moment. And this time of inward looking. What Spark arises in you now? What makes your heart sing and leap and fill with joy and gratitude? How can you take that out into the world as the new year arises? What is there that you can do, that only you can do and that you can do better than anything else. This is your gift to the world now, and it might change, but for now, how could you take this forward? At this turning point of all the worlds of all time. How can you tip your weight on the scales as we lean towards life?. As we flourish. As we thrive. As we give our gifts to the generations yet to come. Let your gift fill you. And as the new dawn comes up, as the days begin to stretch longer. See how you can walk it out into the Earth. Sing it to the Sun. Dance with it under the moonlight. And find yourself in the best that you can be.
Thank you all. Thank you, fellow podcasters, for our wonderful solstice tradition. I really look forward to meeting with you again this time next year.
Della: Thank you, Manda. Thank you, Nathalie.
Nathalie: Thank you.