Ep 4: There Is No Future if We Go Numb

Joanna & Jess May 9, 2024

Episode details

We recorded this conversation just after news broke of the Biden administration’s approval of the controversial Willow Project, opening up millions of wilderness acres in Alaska to new fossil fuel drilling. Jess captured in real time how Joanna processes the fresh outrage and sorrow of this insult to the planet from the very culpable powers that be. It’s a master class in being present with these feelings—feelings that can give rise to determination, courage, and recommitment to our shared purpose.

In this episode:

  • As the news of the Willow Project breaks, Joanna flows through outrage and sorrow 
  • The second step on the spiral: what does it mean to honor our pain, and how do we do it?
  • Bonus Exercise: Breathing Through

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com

Resources

Links, prompts and exercises to further your inquiry.

The WAGT Toolkit

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Learn more about how to start one here.

Meet Your Hosts

Joanna and Jess

Joanna Macy, PhD, is a scholar of Buddhism, systems thinking, and deep ecology who has been working for peace, justice, and the preservation of life on Earth for seven decades. She is the creator of The Work That Reconnects, a globally celebrated framework of practices that has helped leaders and activists for decades to serve the healing of our world in a more powerful and effective way. Joanna is 95 and lives in Berkeley, California.

Jessica Serrante is a coach, facilitator and trainer who has been supporting activists in the climate movement since 2007. She has served on staff at organizations like Greenpeace and Rainforest Action Network and worked with groups like Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion. Her first encounter with Joanna’s work a decade ago changed her life, transformed her burnout, and led to a deep, abiding friendship. Jess is 35 and lives in Oakland, California.

Also By Author

Ep 6: The H-Word

When it comes to the state of our world, the concept of hope can feel elusive. Joanna teaches Jess that the future may be uncertain, but that means that there’s still room for something beautiful to happen. This episode offers insights into embracing uncertainty, cultivating joyousness, and understanding the intricate interplay between hope, courage, and action.

In this episode:

  • “Active hope” is about acting in service of the future we hope for
  • Whenever Jess asks about hope, Joanna talks instead about courage 
  • When hope eludes us, courage and our devotion to life remain steadfast

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

Ep 5 Bonus: Breathing Through

This bonus episode will support you to take the main insights from Episode 4: There is No Future if We Go Numb and Episode 5: This Pain Is Not for Nothing, deeper into your life. 

Both of these episodes are about the second phase in the Spiral of the Work That Reconnects, Honoring Our Pain for the World. This bonus is a recording of Joanna leading a meditation called Breathing Through, recorded at a retreat in 2006. In it, she’ll guide you to create space to acknowledge and honor the pain for the world that you carry without numbing or getting overwhelmed. All you’ll need for this bonus exercise is a place where you can close your eyes and relax.  

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

 

Ep 5: This Pain Is Not for Nothing

Now we get to what may be the toughest part of reckoning with our planet’s situation: dealing with numbness, grief, and despair. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the many crises around us, and natural to want to numb ourselves to the pain. 

Joanna and Jess speak with great vulnerability and candor about what it takes to navigate our darkest feelings—and the strength and beauty that can be found when we honor our pain. 

Trigger Warning: In this episode, we discuss suicide.

In this episode:

  • When it feels like our pain could swallow us whole, it helps to remember that all feelings come and go
  • Desperation can take us to dark places, but we are more than our despair
  • Numbness—Jess opens up about her familiar tactic for escaping pain
  • Our pain becomes sacred when we allow it to deepen our connection with the world
  • Bonus Exercise: Breathing Through

We recommend starting a podcast club with friends or family to do these practices together. Links and assets to help prompt reflection and build community can be found with every episode on WeAreTheGreatTurning.com.

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