After hearing a story of woe on the streets of Portland, Oregon, Jason, Rob, and Asher cover the four critical ways of cultivating personal resilience to navigate the Great Unraveling. The report we reference several times is Welcome to the Great Unraveling: Navigating the Polycrisis of Environmental and Social Breakdown.
Warning: This podcast occasionally uses spicy language.
Rob Dietz Hi, I'm Rob Dietz. Jason Bradford I'm Jason Bradford. Asher Miller And I'm Asher Miller. Welcome to Crazy Town, where the future looks like the past, only shittier Rob Dietz Hey, Jason. Hey, Asher. How are you guys doing? Asher Miller Meh. Jason Bradford Eh Asher Miller I'm a meh today. Rob Dietz Wow. Okay, well, I'm gonna I'm gonna pull you up from "meh land" and... Jason Bradford Yeah, tell me a story. Rob Dietz ...And invite you into a story. How'd you know? Asher Miller Is it storytime, and then we could do nap? Jason Bradford It's just like that time of day. Asher Miller Yeah. Storytime and then naptime. Rob Dietz For our three listeners, they get naptime immediately, as I begin this story. Asher Miller Why do you think they're listening? Jason Bradford Yeah, your voice is so soothing. Rob Dietz So let me set this the scene here in Crazy Town. So I do want to give you the setting first. Okay, this is near my house, where I live in Portland. Jason Bradford Yeah, I've been there. Rob Dietz So you've actually seen this. There is a parking lot. I believe I've mentioned it before, but there's a parking lot very close to home, like probably 100 yards as the crow flies. Asher Miller Had it been paradise before that, and then they paved it? Rob Dietz Yes. Yes. Joni Mitchell does concerts there every day. Jason Bradford Is this at the Seventh Day Adventist Church? Rob Dietz It is near some kind of church. Jason Bradford Yeah, Seventh Day Adventist. Rob Dietz Anyway, this is a public parking lot along a main thoroughfare of the city of Portland... Jason Bradford Or is it Jehovah's Witness? Rob Dietz I don't... yeah, Jehovah's Witness, sure. Jason Bradford Is that what it is? Rob Dietz I believe it is. Asher Miller You trying to get our listeners to be able to triangulate so they know exactly where Rob lives and they're gonna show up at his door. Rob Dietz Oh, it'll be great. We'll start a cult. Okay, so this parking lot, which I've taken to calling Camelot, just as a fantastical name. Hopefully that's not insensitive. During the pandemic, it became the site of regular encampments for houseless people, so they were setting up tents, parking RVs. Asher Miller It wasn't like that before. Rob Dietz No, no, no. Running generators, and it became a real mess. I mean, there were a lot of people, whatever, taking a crap there. There was litter, like at one point, it seriously looked like a huge garbage dump. Jason Bradford This is a parking spot, though also for like transport for public transport. This was like a place people would drop their car and then get on buses. Rob Dietz You could do that, or it was supposed to be parking to go to a nearby business, you know that kind of stuff? Asher Miller So there were businesses right there too? Rob Dietz Yeah, across the street. And one of them ended up closing because it just got to be too much for them, I think, and there were problems. There were drug dealers that I regularly saw there. There were people openly shooting up and I mean, it was near a middle school, all this stuff. Jason Bradford Let me look up the Zillow price on your home right now. Rob Dietz Culminated, culminated in a murder. Somebody was shot there, and yeah, scary, scary stuff. And at that point, I think with the murder, the city said, "Okay, we got to put an end to this." And so the group in charge, the Portland Bureau of Transportation brought in these big highway blocks and put them in this parking area to disrupt the amount of space where you could put a tent or an RV and started doing a little more enforcement. Like, "Okay, you can't camp here." Jason Bradford So there's like 40 campsites gone, but they just move somewhere else? Rob Dietz Yeah, I don't know where the people had to move to, but in the aftermath of that, it's been quiet, and I haven't seen much drug trade. Asher Miller So it's really changed there -- there are fewer people there and stuff? Rob Dietz Yeah. Jason Bradford there's nobody there. I was there recently -- it was empty. Rob Dietz People still do come in though occasionally. So I've told you guys that my number one hobby is getting a trash cart and walking around and picking up litter. Jason Bradford I've seen your setup. It's impressive. Asher Miller Are you out of a job now? Rob Dietz No. So the problem is: I walked through there and I was like, "Oh, man, this is bad. I'm going to clean it up." And so I did that after work one day. It was kind of dusky, you know, getting on towards sunset and I'm walking through, and back in the corner of Camelot, there was just a pile of doughnuts, pizzas, and whole sausages thrown out. Just yeah, like a huge pile and not eaten. Yeah, I mean, there were boxes too. You know, they probably ate some but Jason Bradford Just like the back of a Safeway or something. Someone raided the dumpster. Rob Dietz I have no idea the origins of that. But it was it was a lot. And so I... Asher Miller Did you go to town, you're just like scarfing? Rob Dietz That is not my method of cleaning up, but I'll try to maybe maybe change that. Asher Miller Next time, Rob. Rob Dietz Yeah, that's better recycling. Asher Miller Don't waste it. Jason Bradford Or put it in a worm compost bin. Rob Dietz Yeah. So I'm picking all this up and putting it in my my cart. And this man starts approaching me, and he's got a cart. And it's got... Asher Miller Duelling carts. Rob Dietz Yeah, it's pretty good one actually, it's a three wheeler, like those jog strollers that you use with a baby Asher Miller Is it electric? Rob Dietz No, no. But he had a suitcase sort of attached to it, and this big orange kind of round thing is sticking out the top. And he's, he's walking up to me, and I get kind of like, "Okay, I gotta be on my guard, I gotta be on alert, like, who is this guy?" I don't know him. And I just want to be aware of my surroundings. And he walks up to me. And he says, "Hey, are you staying here tonight?" And I said, "No, I just live in the neighborhood, and I volunteer to pick up trash every once in a while." And he, he doesn't look me in the face. He's looking at the ground as he asked that question. And then his response to me telling him what I was doing is he said, "I was afraid of that." And I was like, well, I was kind of puzzled. Like, "Why are you afraid?" I think he was afraid of that, because he felt bad that the the area was getting trashed. And he goes, "I know who did this. It was Roger. That guy's an asshole." And I was like, "Oh, well, yeah, I don't know, but I'm happy to help out in the neighborhood. It sucks that that people have to stay out here." And I kind of was feeling bad. I was like, you know, you seem like a nice enough guy. So I asked him about his tent -- the orange thing sticking out the top. I was like, "Is that your tent? Are you staying in that tonight?" And he goes, "Yeah." And he kind of had a little flourish, he pulls it out, tosses it in the air, and it lands on the ground and a perfectly formed dome tent was there. Jason Bradford Oh, as seen on TV! Asher Miller No setup required! Rob Dietz Yeah, I know. I was like, man, I wonder is that thing waterproof? Like, I kind of want one of those for camping? That would be that'd be pretty wild. But anyway, we were sort of comparing notes on our carts. And, and he seemed like a nice non threatening guy, but it was getting dark. So I told him, Well, I'm about done here. So So I gotta go. And you take care and you know, have a have a good night. And he's like, Yeah, you too. So I get my cart and I walked to the other end of this parking lot, you know, it's like 50 yards down, and then I make a left, turn down the street, turn the corner, and I'm gonna, you know, walk around that corner to my house. And when I get around the corner, I start hearing this just obscenity laced tirade, he's like, fucking **##@@! Asher Miller It was this guy? Rob Dietz He was the only one there. So that's my assumption. I was like, wow, what just happened? He was calm. Jason Bradford Was it you? Rob Dietz And so here's where we get to the Choose Your Own Adventure part of it. So you guys... Choose Your Own Adventure books -- staple my childhood! Asher Miller Yeah me too. Rob Dietz Books written in the second person. If we have any younger listeners out there, they were these books you read and they say, "You're on this adventure, you're running through the forest, and the dinosaurs are chasing you. What do you do?" And you get to decide, you know, if you want to jump in the river, go to page eight. If you want to climb a tree, go to page 22. Jason Bradford Sure. Rob Dietz And the story unfolds based on the choices you make. Jason Bradford Right. There's consequences. They taught kids that there are consequences for their decisions. Rob Dietz That's right. Jump in the river... Jason Bradford Everyone didn't get a trophy. Rob Dietz Yeah, yeah, that's right. Jason Bradford Sometimes you made a mistake and you died! You know, those are the good old days. Rob Dietz That was the problem with Choose Your Own Adventure. Half of the plotlines ended in you dying. Asher Miller Then you gotta start the book all over again. That's where reincarnation comes in. Rob Dietz So what do you do? Well, you guys choose your own adventure. You're me. You've got your pizza/doughnut/sausage mess cleaned up. You finished talking to this guy. And now he's screaming obscenities. Jason Bradford Is dinner waiting at home with a cold beer? Rob Dietz The cold beer is probably there. We've already dinner though. Asher Miller Yeah, well, I'm just trying to think this is what I always do. I try to think about all the options right? So one option is you ignore it, you go home. Another option is you go back and see if he's okay. A third option, I guess, is you call someone. You know, because you're concerned you call somebody? Yeah, you know. Jason Bradford I guess I think those are the three options. Asher Miller I mean, the truth is, because I'm a coward who also doesn't like interactions with people -- I think you're a lot friendlier than I am, Rob -- I probably... I would worry about the dude, I probably would like lose sleep that night. But if I'm gonna be completely honest, I probably would be a little worried about going back. Jason Bradford I go home. Yeah, there's no doubt there's no way I would turn around. I'd be like, Oh my gosh, oh, no. Well, he held it together when he was with me. I'm happy for that. You know now he's having a breakdown, but... Rob Dietz So the Choose Your Own then says you both died. I'm sorry. Jason Bradford What?!? Asher Miller Yeah or we both suck as human beings. Rob Dietz Yeah if you'd have gone back then that meteor that came -- that wouldn't have hit you in the head. Asher Miller Or the car that came careening around the corner. Rob Dietz Okay, so what actually happened? I had the same thoughts as you, which was like, "I don't want to go back." I got that little jolt of adrenaline, right? Where it's like, somebody suddenly screaming. It wasn't a painful scream; it was more like mad. Jason Bradford Yeah. Sounds mad. Rob Dietz So I kind of like stood there for a sec. And then I'm like, "You know what? I'm going back." So I walked back. Asher Miller You're a better guy than us. Jason Bradford He is better. Asher Miller This is the whole point of the story. He just wants to like, not only us, but whoever's listening to this, to be like, "Yeah, Rob's my favorite." Jason Bradford Yeah, Rob is my favorite. He is my favorite. I mean, right now, he is. I got to admit that. Rob Dietz Okay, so that is not my motivation. Trust me. Asher Miller You weren't thinking ahead? Rob Dietz I did not want to go back. And actually, before I tell you what happened, I think your third idea of call somebody else -- Portland actually has a street response team with social workers. So it's not like calling the police. Yeah, it's calling for real help. And that's, that's a reasonable thing to do. So I walked back, and one of the reasons I agreed with myself to do this is I felt like, there was a buffer. He was at the other end of this parking lot. I'm not, you know, right up in his face, and I feel like, I could probably outrun him too, although he had a better cart than my cart. So that's iffy. So I go back, and with a loud voice, so he can hear me, I'm like, "Hey, is everything okay?" You know, and, and he's like, "Oh, yeah, that was not aimed at you. I wasn't... I was talking to myself. And, and yeah, sorry, I was just yelling at myself. And I was like, "Well, yeah, okay. Be kind to yourself, too." And, and he just was really appreciative. He's like, "Yeah, thanks for caring and thanks for, you know, being a member of the community," you know? And he just calmed down. And I was like, "Okay, yeah, you take it easy and have a good night." And I still felt bad walking away. Like, maybe there's something more I could do for this guy. But, you know, that was about as much energy is as I had for that. And it just got me thinking more and more about where Post Carbon is going with the Great Unraveling. These kind of scenes that I see a lot in Portland where, you know, there's people struggling, and there's litter, and there's drug problems, and there's crime. And you know, they're cascading because of a lot of external forces. People make bad choices, but also a lot of things aren't their fault. And actually, one of the things that that man said to me, that was interesting, he was saying, "Yeah, a lot of people out here on the streets are struggling with mental illness." Right. So he's totally aware of this. Jason Bradford Yeah, sounds like schizophrenia. I don't know for sure. Rob Dietz I suspect he is too, but he seemed like a gentle character, except with himself. You know, like that was, that was amazing. So anyway, I just wanted to share this scene of the Great Unraveling and say that, I think there are ways you can engage and I really love the report, Asher, that you and Richard wrote on the topic and that I helped to edit. And that's been striking a chord with our audience. So I certainly would want to encourage our listeners to go to postcarbon.org and download that sucker. It's called Welcome to the Great Unraveling, and yeah, really good. Jason Bradford Yeah, it sounds a little bit like the mutual aid kind of idea as well, that where you're directly engaging with somebody rather than expecting that some higher level, institution, you know, the social workers and bureaucracy will help, that you're taking the lead not just in communicating with the person but also in picking up trash, Rob Dietz So sometimes I wonder if it's futile, you know, is is this really helping anything but... Asher Miller I'm still stuck on thinking about this dude, man. Just trying to imagine like... did he -- was he starting to yell as soon as you left? Asher Miller It was when I got around the corner. I was out of sight. Asher Miller How long? Rob Dietz Probably like, you know, 30, 40 seconds or something. Asher Miller I just can't help but wonder -- was he yelling at himself, because he's playing back in his head, the interaction he had with you? And he's like, you know, how much of it had to do with this, like social interaction that he had and maybe how much importance he placed on that social interaction. Because we've all done this, right? You imagine when you're, you're 15 years old or something like that. You know, talking to a girl, and you're like, "Aww I fucked that up so badly." I'm feeling like, deep empathy for this guy who maybe -- I'm totally projecting -- but like, maybe he's alone. He's struggling with it. You know, he's stuck with his own thoughts a lot. Here he has this interaction with somebody who, maybe to him is like, somebody who's got it together, you know, Jason Bradford Somebody other than Roger -- asshole. Asher Miller And then he's like, just, you know, beating himself up, you know, and Rob Dietz He's doing the Chris Farley thing -- "Stupid, stupid!" I really have no idea. Asher Miller No, I'm just projecting it. It's just my heart breaks. You know, just all these stories of heartbreak, ya know, Rob Dietz I mean it could have been something like, "Oh, I was hoping to stay here, but this place actually kind of sucks right now." I have no idea. Asher Miller Yeah, I mean, we can't know. I will say that, I'm not going to give you too much credit. It was a small gesture, a small effort that you made, but it was an important effort you made. And I know, Rob, you've made, you've been making this effort in this place. You could have easily, you know... you moved into this new community in Portland, right? You moved up there, you got this, this house, and COVID hits, like months later or whatever weeks later, right? And everyone's hunkering down. And then all of a sudden, you see, like, around the corner very close to your home, right, where you live with your wife, and two daughters, sometimes three daughters, and like, whose safety you're concerned about, and you're seeing this devolving shitshow happening around the corner. And I think many people were conditioned to think that that problem was over there, or I can't get engaged with this thing. Because I'll just get sucked in. It's not safe. Or if I go a little bit, we're gonna have to go all the way. Right? And I can't do that. How much help are they going to ask me to do? Right? So you ration, you know, you rationalize all the reasons why you stay out, and you didn't ever do that. You went in. And obviously, you're concerned about your safety, but you're trying to clean up in your neighborhood. Rob Dietz Let's also note one of my characteristics, which is I can deal with disgusting shit. So actually, that same day, I picked up a dead cat off the corner. And it's like, I noticed it there and it's starting to get bigger, right? And I'm like, Well, Jason Bradford Where are the vultures? Asher Miller Did Roger put it there? Rob Dietz I wanted to get this cat. I had another cat that I picked up that was like 30 feet long. I mean, it had been picked into a... and we have coyotes in the neighborhood. But I seem to be a little less squeamish about that stuff. So I feel like it's a service I can provide without taking as much of a beating as somebody else. Asher Miller It's great that you have that self awareness. I'm just giving you some props here because I think it's really easy -- and I have been guilty many, many times in my life -- of sort of looking the other way with all of these rationalizations for why we do that, right? And I think to your point, we're now in this situation, where maybe it's come for all of us, in a sense of the things that many of us have been privileged enough to keep invisible, in terms of the suffering of people on the planet, you know, from being put in the maw of this fucking machine that we've created, right? It has been invisible to a lot of us. In fact, we pay good money to keep it invisible, right for the systems to work. And now it's, it's sort of like, unavoidable on some level, right? For many of us, and we have this choice of like, do we reckon with it? Maybe we're the ones who are suffering from it, you know, do we basically try to be in denial, you know, it is a "choose your own adventure" situation for all of us. So, yes, the Great Unraveling is coming for all of us. We are all going to have to navigate it. We are faced with choices. One of those choices, of many choices, is how do we do we practice mutual aid? Do we come to the support and aid of others? But how do we do that in a way where we're actually caring for ourselves as well? Because that's the other thing you do is like, I went through this phase when I was in my late teens, early 20s, where I felt like this was OCD. Like I didn't know this at the time, but it was definitely like borderline OCD. I felt like I had to pick up every piece of litter and garbage I saw. So it would actually be and not to the degree that this guy with like, he was yelling at himself... Asher Miller That's what Rob's doing now. Rob Dietz No, I choose which litter. Asher Miller I didn't feel like I had a choice. I felt like it was almost existential. Like if I if I didn't do it, it was basically like a failure. Jason Bradford It was going to choke a turtle or something. Asher Miller It wasn't even that -- I had given up. I mean, and it would be a slippery slope or whatever. So for like a year, dude, I never got anywhere. Jason Bradford How much do you think you picked up? Asher Miller A lot! You know, because it was just there. Rob Dietz How did you do that? Like, were you... Was it dispersed enough that you could just grab a piece and stick it in your pocket or..? Asher Miller We're just talking about litter. We're not talking... I wasn't going to homeless encampments with piles of shit everywhere. Jason Bradford Yeah, you didn't have a cart. Rob Dietz Yeah, you weren't like a bagman, carrying around a Hefty garbage bag. Asher Miller No, I didn't go that way. But I just was like, "Oh, I see a piece of litter. Yeah, do I just ignore it?" I felt like I couldn't do that. And I obsessed over it. You know? And I remember, Rob, you talking about how you were without a car for a while. And you had to bike everywhere. It was a fucking pain in the ass sometimes, you know, to do it, and maybe you felt like, "I've got to do this." It's like an all-or-nothing sort of situation, you know? Rob Dietz That was a political choice similar to yours. Like, I was so fed up with the idea of "we need to get off of cars and stop using them" that I can do my morally superior, "Haha, look at me. I'm a cyclist. I'm better than all of you." But, but yeah, like, you get to that point where my daughter is sick. And I've hooked up the trailer and I'm sick. And I'm taking her to a doctor's appointment in the rain. And I'm like, "What the fuck am I doing?" Asher Miller And meanwhile everyone else is zooming by. Rob Dietz Splashing me in their Canyonero. Asher Miller Yeah, the reason I bring this up is like, you know, it's easy to say it's like an all or nothing proposition in the sense. And I think a lot of people feel that way about... Jason Bradford You're saying it doesn't have to be all-or-nothing, like, do what you can. Asher Miller I think the hardest thing is for it to not be all-or nothing. Jason Bradford Set a boundary, but do something. Asher Miller And that's why navigating that space of like, how do we care for others? How do we care and practice empathy, while not basically sacrificing ourselves entirely to maybe I'm not going to call this like Quixotic. You know, like, this is a pointless exercise. But you know, it's easy to be like, I'm gonna die on this fucking hill. Asher Miller Yeah, it's more Sisyphean than Quixotic. Jason Bradford I have issues where like... so my wife happens to work with people that often don't have health insurance. And she sees people who English is not their first language. And they're often coming from difficult situations, and she is a health care provider for those people. So every day she's in the midst of conversations with folks like that. And when she comes home, she wants it to be like a retreat, like she does not want... So the problem is that sometimes what I would do is I would bring stuff home. And, and it would be like, "No, no, no, no, no, no." Asher Miller "I can't take any more." Jason Bradford "I do this work, I don't want anybody around to bother me, I don't want to any obligations, I don't want to have to feel like I have to be present with somebody besides my family, you know?" And so it's interesting, like, I've had to say, I've had to back off of dragging any sort of thing from the outside, or just keeping things at a little bit more distance because of that, so it's great. So I let her handle that stuff. And I feel fine. Rob Dietz You can unload during this podcast, instead of unloading with her. Jason Bradford Exactly. Asher Miller I just, I think that this is one of the challenges for us, we have to practice mutual aid. So we should actually talk about what that even means. Right? Mutual Aid. You brought that up, Jason. The truth of the matter is, you could come up with a term for it -- we can call it mutual aid, we could talk about the roots of it, you know, ultimately, what we're talking about is the way that human communities have practiced living in community for forever, right? It's basically about if you look at Indigenous communities, and you understand their history and their culture of necessity, basically, people are not left to their own devices to succeed or fail, right? Our victories are shared, our suffering and our failures are shared and seeing that we live in a world where everything is mutual. And we could go back to the biology of the mitochondria that's in our cells, right? It's all mutualism, ultimately, but we just divorce ourselves in the sense from that. Rob Dietz I no longer have mitochondria. They've gotten a divorce. Jason Bradford Well, yeah, in some ways, it's ironic that the the wealthier you are, the more likely it is that you're going to have relationships that are monetized. Asher Miller Yeah, it's all transactional. Jason Bradford It's all transactional. As you look at communities that don't have as much wealth, they've had to trade favors. They've had to do this mutual aid thing to just eke out a livable world for them. And it's almost in their... In some sense, people talk about who are the people? Who are the communities that are most at risk for the Great Unraveling? And I wonder, you know, where is it going to really break, you know? Some wealthy gated community where everybody's used to DoorDash showing up and the house cleaner and the Mr. Fixit coming in to take care of their gutters? Or some neighborhood where people aren't that well off, but somebody's a plumber or somebody's an electrician, somebody's a farmer. People are into child care, people do the basic health care stuff, there's nurses or whatever. And they haven't had money to pay for all the services. And so they've been exchanging favors for decades, maybe, they go up into community. So I don't know... Rob Dietz You know, second law of thermodynamics -- Gates rust and break down. I mean, how long is your gated community really going to be gated? Jason Bradford As long as money and private property rights are enforced. Asher Miller I mean, God, we could have a whole conversation around that because on the one hand, you could you could easily argue that the people in communities of privilege and whose life experience has been when one of privilege... Well, first of all, I would actually question whether it's true privilege, because they've, like you said, they change relationships into transactions. But you could say, oh man, their resilience is so fucking low that when the shit hits the fan, they don't know what the hell to do, right? We talked about Douglas Rushkoff, you know, the billionaires worrying about how they have they keep their, their armed guards loyal to them. Asher Miller And that's why they want to hold on to them as much as possible. So you could look at them and be like, actually, those guys are fucked. And the people who've had to struggle day to day more and have have networks, informal networks, and mutual aid that exists, are more resilient. And in general, I think that true. Unfortunately, at the same time, we're dealing with power dynamics, where the people that are in privileged positions still have access to a lot of power, and they're going to do everything in their fucking power to maintain that as much as possible and basically keep pulling out the meager resources of 90% of the world to maintain that as much as possible. Rob Dietz To be honest, I mean, we're kind of, in our own worlds in that same boat. Like, I'm gonna work hard to protect... you know, you talked about my house and my family, and I want to hang on to that, I want to keep it, because we're kind of stuck in this private property setup that we've got. But you know, the guy that I ran into... he doesn't have that -- maybe that's what he was upset about, you know? He can't just walk around the corner and go sleep in a nice bed. Jason Bradford Yeah, I can't imagine. Rob Dietz I want to take it back to Asher. You started talking about how we all have to navigate this in between space. And we've been calling it the liminal space. Because that -- I guess that's what that means: in between. And I don't think I understood that real well, until I started experiencing this sort of thing. It's like you have to decide for yourself how much to engage or not engage, and it's not like you said, with the litter, it's not all or nothing. You don't have to be a nut because you can't solve everything. And that's one of the key points of our report this "Welcome to the Great Unraveling" report. Another key point is something we bring up pretty regularly, or at least you two bring up, and that's to be smarter about how you process information. So like thinking and systems, thinking critically, and even thinking outside of the way that we've been taught over time, like I know a lot of Indigenous societies -- they process community decisions much much differently than a bunch of people living in their own houses in a standard American town do nowadays. Asher Miller Oh the HOA is doing a fantastic job. Rob, you're wrong about that. School board meetings? They're fantastic too, just as an example of coming together. Rob Dietz In fact, I like it when the HOA and the school board get combined, that's the liminal space I'm talking about. Asher Miller The potlucks are fantastic. Jason Bradford I've been in some places where it was like consensus-based decision making. What a double-edged... Asher Miller They're still meeting right now. Jason Bradford Well, that's the problem. It's double-edged sword where you realize, "Oh, that's wonderful," because I've actually been in situations where you decide to break the consensus and go right to Robert's Rules of order or whatever, and then somebody's always upset, and that that upsetness lingers, and then it leads to problems later. And so you see why some of these traditional methods take forever to decide -- it has to do with the fact that they want to bring the community along, and they want to incorporate, and they want to at least make people feel like they've been listened to so well. The reason that could work in the past was that everything was so much slower. Like, you were spending all this time in community, you had all these times to have conversations, right? Asher Miller It was at the pace of biology. We're at the pace of technology. Rob Dietz Yeah, think of the Ents in "Lord of the Rings." They had the Ent moot. They would spend eons at the opening, right, because they're trees! Jason Bradford Right. And so I think the problem we have now -- it's like, we grew up with this pace. This pace, this pace, this pace requires a decision, because I mean, how often nowadays are you upset, because the decision isn't made in time? It happens all the time. Rob Dietz I don't know if you guys suffer from decision fatigue the way I do, but there's some times in the day where like, I'm not making another decision I can't do it. I would rather do hard physical labor than make a decision right now. Jason Bradford And this is the cost of complexity to society, where you have to have all these sort of, you know, layers, these hierarchies, these bureaucracies, these, these levels of expertise, because of course, you don't want someone who's not an advanced engineer to make a decision about the local bridges. Okay, but there's only so many people trained that well, and there's a process they have to go through, to make it transparent. And so you can see why it just gets bogged down eventually. And this is sort of a Tainteresque sort of problem, right? The ability to actually manage and make decisions. You demand the speed but humans can't... So AI is gonna take care of it. Rob Dietz Can I just say, "Tainteresque" -- you're talking about Joseph Tainter. Nothing, nothing about the taint. Jason Bradford Nothing about the wonderful perineum. Asher Miller Perineumesque! Rob Dietz Yes, Joseph Tainter, who wrote what? The Collapse of Complex Societies. Asher Miller Just the other thing about what you were saying, Jason, was, again, back to the transactional nature of relationships... You know, we have this weird gap that's growing, right? Which is, things are kind of unraveling generally, people don't feel like they're doing well, emotionally, mentally. Jason Bradford Even if materially, they're fine, you're aware of the other parts of the world that are not. Jason Bradford That's a weird thing that's like, we both need to slow down and lower expectations for the speed at which things can happen if we're going to work together better, be a community. And at the same time, events are happening so quickly, that we demand a rapid response, and we need to respond. We need to respond, right? So I think this is one of those predicaments. Asher Miller I just think that there's a lot of shit going on, and maybe, you know, subterranean subconscious or whatever. And then you have this, like, Karen phenomenon -- endless examples of people who are acting out of their mind, because they're upset that they're not getting their way about something. And it's like the combination of the fact that we've we've actually conditioned certain people in particular, to expect things as the customer -- the customer is always right. And I live in this complex world, in the system where I want something and I've got the means... I could put it on my credit card, and boom, this thing materializes. And if it doesn't materialize right away, what the fuck is going on? And I'm mad, right? And you take that and how we've been ingrained in that and trained in that, and the relationships are very much this power dynamic of "I'm the customer, and you're the whoever, the worker." And we had a moment, right, where we're like, "Oh, these are essential workers, Let's clap for them to remain." But really, we didn't give two shits in the long run. And now things are not going to work as well. They're going to actually work much worse. And yeah, how do we learn to actually have empathy and recognize that there is mutualism at play here? We have to give in order to receive, and it's a rewiring. Do we have the time to rewire in the way that we need to in order to actually be able to get through the shit that we need to get through? Because we're not going to get through it individually? I don't know, man, it's a it's a race, I think. Rob Dietz One of the really big keys to that is being in good shape yourself. Like, I was talking about decision fatigue. When I'm feeling that or when I'm administratively overloaded, I'm not a good person, right? That's not the time I'm going to turn around and go talk to my friend who's struggling in the street. And that was another of the cool things in the "Welcome to the Great Unraveling" report. It talked about what is it that you need to do as an individual to steel yourself, to make yourself stronger, to be in this unsure time to walk through that liminal space. And so what are the characteristics of a psychologically resilient person? And I thought that was, maybe that's a key thing that we can share with folks just so they can start thinking about it? Maybe we can each just just share some of it. A lot of people are under this myth that the ones who fare the best and who are the mentally healthiest are the optimists, the ones who are like, "Oh, you just make lemonade out of lemons." Asher Miller I mean, have you seen Steven Pinker? He's the happiest, most well-adjusted dude around. He told me that's why he has photos of himself in his house. Rob Dietz Exactly, exactly. Yeah. So that's not it, obviously. Rob Dietz And even the Guy McPherson part -- you don't have shit-tinted glasses, either. It's not rose-tinted, like you said: observe, see realistically what's going on around you. Jason Bradford Yeah, you've gotta... I think the ability to be realistic as much as possible, to really accept, to observe without rose-tinted glasses on, to observe reality. And then make a realistic assessment. And then plans according to that - I think that's really important. Asher Miller But not in a Spock way.. Do you know what I mean? Like, I think that's also a mechanism of avoidance in a sense, which is like, because I think somebody could interpret what you're saying, Jason, and think, "Okay, well, I just have to be very hyper-rational." Look at this situation dispassionately and try to think about the best thing to do, which is true, I think we have to deal with reality. And at the same time, part of dealing with reality is actually seeing what this feels like, what this means, and processing that on some level, because, holy shit, this stuff is heavy. And if we don't actually process some of that stuff, I don't think we're actually going to make rational decision. Jason Bradford So now having an emotional intelligence that not only deals with your own emotions, but also maybe then can be empathetic to how others might be reacting. Asher Miller So it comes to self care. Rob Dietz Well, this leads, I think, to the second critical factor -- there's four of these. So you just mentioned the ability to be realistic, make realistic plans, and you added, Asher, to that, that you deal with your emotions as you're looking at this reality, especially if it's something that's hard to look at. But the second one, then, is to have a positive self concept and confidence in your own strengths and abilities. And that means, obviously, being able to recognize what your strengths and abilities are. And a lot of people, you know, including presidents, the United States kind of over overstate their strengths and abilities. Jason Bradford Some people underestimate. Asher Miller So yeah, it's... why am I blanking on the name? Jason Bradford Dunning Kruger? Asher Miller Yeah, thank you, Dunning Kruger. So, maybe a little caveat to that, which is: it's important to recognize and acknowledge your own strengths and kind of lean into them and your own capacity, because I think we probably all have more capacity than we might recognize. And at the same time, it's good to recognize maybe where we don't have as many strengths. And that gets back to the mutualism because... a really stupid example, okay, my wife and I... Jason Bradford Oh, she compensates a lot for your weaknesses. Asher Miller Oh, she overcompensates. But, for example, I just learned, even though I'm quote/unquote, the man of the relationship, my spatial awareness sucks. I'm really bad at figuring out how to build things. I'm great at doing it -- she's great at reading instructions, like telling me what to do. So we figured out, in this situation, I'm not the dumbest person in the world, but when it comes to certain things, just tell me what to do, and I'll do it. Yeah, I mean, if I had to try to figure it out myself, I just don't have that brain. So just sort of understanding what our strengths are and recognizing that other people have different strengths, and bringing them together, you know, collectively, probably is the best. Rob Dietz And having a positive self concept. Like it's good that you you know, you're an idiot when it comes to putting together a basketball hoop on the side of the house. So you just follow the directions of what to screw in where, but you're not kicking yourself for that. You're like, that's not my strength, but I can be helpful. Asher Miller It can take a while to accept it. Yeah, it was a few basketball hoops landing on my head. Rob Dietz Crashing on the windshield of the car. Asher Miller Took a little while! Rob Dietz Your boy's in the hospital with a broken arm. Asher Miller They're embarrassed to be associated with me. Jason Bradford You got the hoop sticking up, and the backboard sticking horizontal. Asher Miller Well, I'm starting to invent a new game. Rob Dietz Okay, so a third critical factor for being psychologically resilient is to develop your communication skills, and applying those communication skills towards solving problems. I mean, we see this all the time -- anybody does in a family or work environment, dealing with the guy that I was talking to around the corner. I feel bad I keep calling him "the guy." We know Roger, the asshole, but I don't even know his name. Asher Miller I want to call him "me" because I was thinking about the "Roger and Me" film. Rob Dietz But, but being able to figure out how you can converse with the people that you're coming into contact with. Asher Miller I think it's very simple. It's being directive and authoritarian. That's the way to communicate with people, right? It's my way or the highway. Jason Bradford I have so much trouble with this, where I think I'm doing a slow, clear communication, and then people just haven't actually understood me. So I think it's that's a really hard one. And I don't get upset when people don't understand me. I just sort of like, try to say it again. But yeah, that is amazing. It's always more work than you think it's gonna be. It's absolutely astonishing. And I am having a hard time recognizing that. Rob Dietz We've known each other for, like 12 or 15 years, right? And I'm still waiting to understand one thing that you've said in that time. I mean, honestly, that's about the most challenging thing there. Be a good communicator, go forth. Okay. Jason Bradford Well, this is about the time again, about having the time. Do you feel you have the time to sit with somebody and say, "Okay, what, what did you believe? What do you believe? Like, explain to me what you heard me say or something like that." Like, that's the thing -- it takes that kind of follow through often, but sometimes people are like, "Well, my wife does this to me. Sometimes I just roll my eyes." I'm just like, "Oh, come on. I got this. Leave me alone." Rob Dietz Spouses really enjoy when you roll your eyes at them. Jason Bradford You're gonna make me repeat it back to you? You want me to repeat it back to you -- that kind of thing. But I understand why she does it. So I have to be more patient. Rob Dietz Yeah, patience -- probably a key there. Asher Miller And seeing it as a constant process of learning how to be better listeners and more empathetic and yeah, even stupid things. Like, you know, "I feel this way" versus saying, "You are doing this." You know, even though they're absolutely wrong. Rob Dietz Everybody else is wrong. Asher Miller That's why it's so much easier for Donald Trump. He's certain about everything. Rob Dietz Here's a far easier one. This is the fourth and final critical factor in cultivating your own psychological resilience. And that's the ability to manage strong impulses and feelings. Asher Miller This one's easy for me, because I just I have no feelings. I just shut them off. Cut them off, cauterize them. Jason Bradford It's simple when you're sociopathic. Rob Dietz Man, I feltI felt so good the other day -- I don't even remember what it was pissed about. I think something fell out of a cabinet and hit me in the hand, and it hurt. I didn't like it. And I had the thing in my hand, I was about to just spike it on the floor. And I was like... I did the whole lowering of the arm, all clenched. And I was like, "Okay," and I set it down on the counter. I manage my immediate impulse. Asher Miller Easy peasy. Asher Miller I actually have a lot to say about this. During the pandemic, one of our sons -- I'm not gonna name who it is because... Jason Bradford One of two. Asher Miller Yeah, one of two, yeah, was really struggling with online school, and there's a lot of anger because he's a very social being and the thing about school for him was the social interaction. And that was all taken away from him, and he would have these sort of emotional blow ups, and he basically was unregulated. He was really struggling and we actually wound up going and talking to a child and family therapist. And that was the first time I got introduced to the idea of of the window of tolerance or zone of tolerance. And we actually at PCI did a session with one of our advisors, Leslie Davenport, who is a psychotherapist and works on climate psychotherapy in particular. And she was also introducing this concept to the staff which is this idea of we get tipped -- basically we become unregulated. So we become overstimulated, or we become under, you know, and these are different approaches or different ways of coping with stress -- things that create a big emotional reaction for us. So, some of us flip our lids or sometimes we flip our lids and sometimes we just shut down emotionally, right? And people do it in different ways based upon how they will have to cope with these things, and building your window of tolerance is just about stretching your your capacity to deal with stressful situations. So in your situation, Rob, when you got hurt by this thing, maybe the the reaction of slamming this thing on the ground is built up over all these other frustrations -- maybe because you read the fucking news about what's happening with the temperatures in the North Atlantic, you know what I mean? And so us being able to process and practice self care and grow that window of tolerance allows us to deal with stressful situations better. And there are lots of things or exercises that people can do that teaches you what your things are. Like, I learned from myself, petting my dog helped me reregulate. Walking around the neighborhood helped me. Exercise helped me. For different people, different things -- listening to music. Jason Bradford Yeah, I go birding. Asher Miller Punching Rob in the face! Rob Dietz Yeah, that's a favorite pastime of everybody. Asher Miller There's a whole line -- do you remember "Airplane!". There's that scene with this woman freaking out. They're all lined up to shake her... Asher Miller They're all carrying baseball bats. Asher Miller Exactly. Rob Dietz Well, I thought it may be a fun concluding exercise for us: would be to take those four critical factors that help you develop and cultivate your psychological resilience and apply them to how I did in in trying to work with this, this meeting with the guy on the street. Asher Miller So we're talking about the ability to make realistic plans and take steps necessary to implement them. Positive self concept and confidence in your strengths and abilities, communication and problem solving skills, and the ability to manage your feelings. Rob Dietz So that first one -- ability to make realistic plans and take steps necessary to implement -- I don't think I did a damn thing on that. Jason Bradford That doesn't really apply -- you were just kind of in the moment. Asher Miller Would you say that in retrospect, it would have been calling to get the guy help, or would you intervene in some way? Rob Dietz It doesn't seem like he needed someone called, but you didn't know that. Rob Dietz Yeah, so that's actually a good point. Because when you brought up here's the three responses, I hadn't even thought of that third one -- of call for some more professional, better help than what I'm going to be able to give. So I do think that would be doing that -- that would be planning ahead and making realistic plans. That would be running these scenarios in your mind and thinking, how might I play these out going forward? Rob Dietz I hadn't done that. So I, I give myself at best a C- or D+ on that. So the second one is what you said Asher. It's the positive self concept and confidence in your strengths and abilities. I think I'd give myself a pass on this. I think I can talk to him just like he's my neighbor, because that's what he is to me. And I feel like I can at least kind of talk my way out of stuff too. Like if it was gonna be more confrontational, I'm okay, and disengaging if I need to. I'm a pretty fast runner. Jason Bradford You know you got that in your back pocket. Rob Dietz And I think I can fight, but I probably can't. Jason Bradford Just run, just run. Asher Miller So definitely positive self concept there. Jason Bradford Bite and go for the eyes. Rob Dietz Try to bite eyes? Is that your...? Rob Dietz Your go for the eyes. Asher Miller This is the takeaway of this conversation is... Rob Dietz Bite people's eyes. Asher Miller This poor man who's clearly struggling, right, and beating himself up, you're gonna go and... Asher Miller Bite his eyeball. Asher Miller Does that make sense? Perfect sense. Rob Dietz So anyway, I think I get a passing grade on that one. The third one, then, is what? Jason Bradford Communication, you know, be able to communicate well. Rob Dietz Right, and I think I'm okay with that. Jason Bradford Oh, you're great at communication. Asher Miller I think you're giving yourself a low score on that. I mean, I wasn't there for this, but the truth of the matter is, you know, you had a rapport with this dude, and you came back and you talked to him, and he was appreciative. Rob Dietz And I did naturally -- at least I think it was natural -- approach it from like cart appreciation. Jason Bradford Oh, and tent. And tent -- about his tent! Rob Dietz And I'm not a stuff guy, really. But we were like, kind of like, you know, just checking out the carts and... Jason Bradford Sniffing butts? Rob Dietz There was very little butt sniffing, but I'll think of that next time. Maybe we'll put that in the... Asher Miller That would not be good communication. Can I sniff your butt right now? Rob Dietz Okay, so then the fourth one is the ability to manage strong impulses and feelings. And this is actually -- I don't think I'm that good at this generally. But this one: flying colors this time, because my impulse was just like what you said: it was to go home to have a beer and not deal with this at all. And I kind of overcame that and went back, and it ended much, much better. Now, a little punchline to this story. I went and saw him and I told him to be kind to himself, please. And he thanked me and we sort of ended on a second good note, okay, and I walk around the corner again. And I get to the exact same spot. And then I hear this loud boom. And it scared the frickin daylights out of me -- I was so adrenalized. It was around the Fourth of July, and it was just fireworks okay? It wasn't like a shooting or anything but I had just gotten an adrenaline jolt to go back to talk to the guy after the obscenity tirade. And now the damn firework. I felt like, you know... I think people suffering from... like vets who are suffering from PTSD have that kind of response, just like, "Oh, God, time to go home and get that beer." Asher Miller Yeah, well, I I appreciate you sharing that story with us. And I think that there's some important lessons there. I am going to be thinking about this guy, though. I gotta tell you, I don't know what he looks like. I have a picture in my head, you know? Rob Dietz Well, come on up, and we'll see if we can find him, and you can have a conversation. Jason Bradford I hope we don't run into that Roger. Asher Miller Fucking Roger! Rob Dietz Bite his eyes out.