I’ve noticed that these days I’m listening to far less music and far more speaking. My default radio station (when Mo’s not in the car) is now ABC local radio, and my iPod spends most of its time playing me conversations and sermons rather than shuffling through the various songs I’ve collected over the years, as it used to. I’m a huge fan of podcasts at the moment, particularly the interview- or conversation-style ones, and I find myself wishing I had the technology to be able to start my own one, so that I, too, would be allowed to ask people deep questions about life without just seeming nosy and weird. (I think I’ll just study psychology instead, for the same reason.) Podcasts, as I’ve said about films in the past, are like free therapy for me. I’m also learning a lot about listening from listening to interviewers listen to others.
“We all want to have a happy life; what’s getting in the way is us. No one’s going to fix that for us except us! Like, if we’re not the ones to look at our problems and say, “I’m actually ready to do what I have to do to get past that” it’s just, it’s never going to happen.” Ben Lee in Wilosophy
I recently discovered The Osher Günsberg Podcast, and have enjoyed the few conversations I’ve heard so far (the episodes with Charlie Pickering and Mia Freedman especially). Osher’s podcast is similar to Wil Anderson’s Wilosophy, although I think I prefer the focus of Wil’s; though the conversations in both podcasts end up covering the same kind of ground (childhood, career, etc.), Wilosophy ends up being more about who people are and why than about what they’ve achieved/are working on. But The Osher Günsberg Podcast has the awesomest theme music for any show of all time, so...
I’ve mentioned Richard Fidler’s Conversations on this blog before, and I’m still a huge fan. I send the episode with Lucy Perry to all my pregnant friends approaching childbirth, and was recently so hooked on Fidler’s interview with Julia Gillard that I felt ripped off when it ended after the usual 50 minutes rather than continuing for hours more. I love that I haven’t heard the names of many of the people interviewed on Conversations, and yet their stories are just as enthralling and inspiring as those told by the people of varying degrees of fame featured in The Osher Günsberg Podcast and Wilosophy; looking at the list of those interviewed by both Wil and Osher, there’s an insinuation of what “interesting” or “successful” or “inspiring” looks like, and it’s nice to be reminded by Fidler that these kinds of stories can be found among us regular, non-celebrity dudes too.
“I think all human beings are a ratio of ‘being’ and ‘becoming’, and that for most of us after childhood we think of ourselves as mostly ‘being’ with some ‘becoming’, and when ‘becoming’… takes over…we think of that as a crisis… I think that’s really the glory of the human race… ‘becoming’ is so much at the core of who we are and, you know, I don’t think anybody should write us off. We’re not done yet.” Joy Ladin in On Being
Of all the podcasts I listen to, though, my favourite by far and away is On Being with Krista Tippett, an American radio show that always leaves me feeling like my brain and heart are slightly bigger than they were before I started listening. Two episodes that have particularly stuck with me are Tippett’s conversation with Jennifer Michael Hecht (‘Suicide, and Hope for our Future Selves’), and the one with Joy Ladin (‘Gender and the Syntax of Being’), a transgender woman who transitioned as an adult (her perspective on being a woman after living as a man for so long is fascinating). I am more likely to pause On Being conversations to write down quotes than I am with any other podcast; the guests (and Tippett) are all wise in mind-blowy ways, and I appreciate having my world expanded for that hour-and-a-bit (I always listen to the unedited interviews), especially given that so often right now my world feels small and dull. I can’t recommend the podcast more highly.
”And it’s funny ‘cause my two arguments, that you owe it to other people and that you owe it to your future self, are both about looking at what the individual means, because when you look at a person within a group and all the trends we follow, the clothes, the car, the not car, the every— all these trends that we follow… you realise the extent to which we’re enmeshed. And when you look at yourself and realise that you have fallen in and out of love with the same person, you have fought with friends thinking you’ll never speak to them again and then you love them again – we have different moods that profoundly change our outlook, and it’s not right to let your worst one murder all the others.” Jennifer Michael Hecht in On Being
Have a listen, let me know what you reckon, and offer suggestions if you have any. Oh, and all of the podcasts I’ve mentioned can be found on iTunes as well as at the pages I’ve linked to. Cleaning the bathroom while listening to a podcast makes the application of bicarb soda and white vinegar so much more bearable, I promise. This is the end of the post. You may not have realised that because I’ve no idea how to end it well and none of these sentences sound very end-y, but it really is.