Distraction Therapy – What is a Meaningful Life?

Occasionally as we journey through life we reach a fork in the road presenting us with a choice. Do we go one way along the well-worn path, or do we head along the lesser-known route and see what we can discover? I feel I have reached one of those points of choice. I can either continue along the familiar route, or I can head off with no map, no sense of where I’m going, and try to explore the unfamiliar terrain.

I’ve spent a long-time developing service work for community media, whereby I facilitate training and development that improves the ability of other people to function as a group or community that uses communication for community purposes. The role I’ve often played is to help others fix their organisational set-up, and to help people find a way to communicate that is functional and practical. I enjoy the sense of development that is based on sowing seeds, and then helping them grow and develop. I like doing this work because I get satisfaction from helping people realise their potential.

Quite often, however, I feel I miss out on opportunities to consider my own personal growth and development. Like many people, I spend a lot of time helping to fix other people’s problems, and I don’t spend much time managing my own affairs. I’m good at making sure that other people feel fulfilled and nourished, but in doing this, I often miss opportunities for my own self-expression and personal development.

Over the Covid-19 pandemic I started a personal podcast, Distraction Therapy, with the aim of discussing the experience of getting through the lockdowns, and what some of us were doing to manage the feeling of enforced isolation. Understanding what media and activities we engaged in was quite useful. What helped different people to maintain their sense of stability while also taking time to reflect on the benefits that this global period of enforced introspection brought.

In my head, then, I’ve aligned my podcasts with the notion of metamodernism, which is an approach to personal and social development that comes after postmodernism, The metamodern approach is less individualistic and more connected than postmodern critiques of social interaction are. Metamodernism challenges us to also think about our emotional and spiritual development, our ecological responsibilities, our social responsibilities, and the philosophical challenges that we have to understand.

So, rather than simply making ironic or self-referential gestures and statements, that get circulated in a game of popularity and social status, metamodernism asks us to think about what a meaningful life is. Over the last twelve months, Ryan Clayton and I have met for coffee and discussed both weighty philosophical issues, in addition to the ephemeral culture of contemporary culture. We’ve been attempting, probably in a very clumsy way, to make sense of the mediated world and our place in it.

It’s been a fascinating process because it requires that we trust that ideas and insight will emerge through our conversations. Based on what I’ve learnt over the fifty-odd episodes of the podcast that I’ve shared, I’m beginning to wonder if it is possible to shift the process up a couple of gears, and to enhance the podcast as a more regular opportunity for discussion and reflection about what makes for a meaningful life?

Can the podcast go out weekly? Is it possible to develop the podcast as a weekly radio programme? There is an opportunity to also broadcast the podcast on Soundart Radio and Leicester Community Radio, and also to develop the concept for Radio Lear, a proposed new DAB radio station I’m trying to get going in Leicester.

My conceptualisation is to record a conversation each week that explores the idea of what living a meaningful life is about. I’m open-minded about how that can be developed and approached. I’m open to discussions of a philosophical, spiritual, existential, or phenomenological basis. I’d like the opportunity to learn about art, poetry, literature, photography, music and media, and other people’s relationship with natural, social or spiritual experiences that encompass their sense of the meaningful life.

My intuition is telling me to follow the path less well explored, and to think creatively about how this journey might unfold, and who I’ll meet along the way. I do know that this will be a journey of conversations. These conversations can either be in-person or online. There is a wealth of opportunities to engage on conversation using social media, and to trigger thoughts and be inspired by discussions that are taking place on many different platforms.

My inspirations include: Hanzi Freinacht; Metamoderna; Carl Jung, Radio Art Zone; Emergent Commons; The Wire; Speaking of Jung, Living Myth, and many more. Send me a message to get involved, take part, or just to put time aside for a chat.

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