Alison is one of those people without whom –even though we’ve not met (yet) in the flesh– my week simply doesn’t feel quite right. Luckily the feeling is mutual, so we do meet up (at least once) weekly, in a variety of constellations. More than once I’ve left a Zoom-meeting with her thinking ”Damn, we should have recorded this conversation!” because there’s been so much wisdom and richness shared between us. Naturally, when the idea for this podcast was born, Alison was the first person I asked to join, and this first of our recorded conversations wasn’t one to let me down.
Time and attention is a gift I’ve gotten from Alison Coates ever since we met up in the very first cohort of The Creative’s Workshop by AKIMBO in the spring of 2020. Time and attention is what Alison does, or rather, gives to people. And if that doesn’t make any sense to you, check out https://www.timeandattention.uk/.
I came scurrying home when we were supposed to start our conversation, having just spent a lovely time in the open-air bathing house/sauna so… we dove straight into being naked. And bodies. Body hair. And on account of me fairly recently having opened a profile on the online dating-app/forum Badoo, I’ve been musing quite a lot about what attracts versus repels me. A bunch of my prejudices are here for the taking in other words, but Alison jumped off that cliff too, so I’ve got great company.
Opening up about this causes us to meander past inclusion, exclusion and the horrible word ’tolerance’. (Think about it. Tolerance. ”I tolerate you.” Like. Really?) How do personal boundaries play a part in all of this? And do they?
The messy part in the middle, the conversations where I am neither Black nor White, not Pro nor Con, Red or Blue, or whatever polarity have you. Those conversations. We’re missing out on a lot of those, but why? Fear? Wanting to have it my way? Taking things to personally (I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past, for sure! Probably still am, however much ”in the past” I’d want it to be.)?
In the middle of a global pandemic with COVID-19 vaccine roll-out just about picking up speed, what if you are neither For the vaccine nor Against it? What if you find yourself in the middle, in the gray zone in-between Black and White? Another area where we hook arms, and as lovely as it is not to be alone there, it’s quite frustrating to observe the lack of conversation generally made possible in this no-man’s-land, the land of being able to see the pro’s and con’s of both sides.
Which brings us to the topic of prophets and Ishmael (the book by Daniel Quinn). If you divide the world into two main cultures, the Takers (us, sorry. But yeah. I’m there. And so are you. 99,9% likely.) and the Leavers (remnants of indigenous people spread across the globe), prophets are found amongst the former and not the latter. Can you think of a reason why?
Daniel Quinn did. He points to the fact that Taker culture is on the look out for someone to tell them the one right way to live. And once we’ve found that one-size-fit’s-all-way, we work hard as hell to make everyone around us comply. Whereas Leaver-culture is based on finding out, and sharing amongst themselves, what works. For them. Not for everyone. So you have a Leaver-culture living in the jungle, another in the desert, a third in the Arctics. All of them have a set of rules for what works, for them. But neither of them would try to make anyone else live accordingly.
Now there’s some potential tankespjärn!