Experiencing time pass has to be one of the weirdest things. It surrounds everything around us yet is incredibly inconsistent. One moment it’s molasses slow, the next it was like it was never there. Scientists and philosophers have tried to explain time, how our brain makes it possible, for ions. Did we invent it? How do we all have such a unified experience with time? Is time passing or are we passing time? “Now” is a squirmy thing, the closer you get to it the harder it is to pin down. Time seems to be a sort of creepy mystery quietly packed with discovery and at least for me, it’s something I work hard at slowing way down.
If you’re reading this and are middle aged (especially a man) you’re depressed and don’t have any friends. That’s right, I’m talking to you and so are big industries who capitalize on your sad state like pharma, shrinks, and the tornado of advertisers who prey on your pleas for help. Us middle-aged people are crying out for help, just like our babies who we put in nursery rooms by themselves. By now, our kids have left, our marriage may have left, and all the friends we used to have are on their own little islands, suffering just like us. We’ve all over-declared our independence, our society has built a super complex, reinforcing system around it. I’m one of these poor souls, too: a middle aged guy with my wife as my best friend, whose put everything I have into my family and most of those kids are now adults who have moved on and left poor, old me feeling really isolated and lonely.
When you live in the Bay Area you pass tons of folks who appear to be mad. Most of us don’t spend enough time focusing on how our culture handles folks on the spectrum of some level of mental illness. When you think about it— the range of “madness” ranges from people with very serious mental illness to people who don’t socially fit in. As you look back across history, you can see just how we’ve dealt with it, who we’ve blamed for it, and what crazy treatments we’ve put in place.
Who better to talk about that than someone who studies it for a living. Andrew Scull, this week’s guest, is exactly that person. As a professor of Sociology at the University of San Diego, he’s written a ton of books on this subject over decades.
Clearly throughout recorded history we’ve been fascinated by things like the Fountain of Youth and anything that would reverse the aging process. Let’s face it, if you’re over 40, you feel it physically. Your systems just start to break down. In modern medicine, this process has been seen as disease but this week’s guest, Aubrey de Grey, sees it more like an engineering challenge.
Aubrey is a very controversial biomedical gerontologist and crusader against aging. He has a very specific plan that identifies the various components that cause human tissue to age, and he has very specific remedies for each of them. That’s what his non-profit, The SENS Research Foundation focuses on and it’s got some interesting people behind it, like Peter Thiel (one of the founders of PayPal) and Aubrey himself who has invested a large part of his inheritance to the cause.
How do you tell the story of your life? Turns out a big part of your personality are the snapshots of experiences you assemble and re-assemble of your past and future. Of course, that means that you can curate and shape those things, refine them based on what works for you and how others respond. When you stop and think about it, we have a lot more control over the frames we choose then we think, a lot more control of how we design our own narrative and how it works with our character. The more aware we are of the story we want to tell with our lives, the clearer our choices for the future can be. That means that the narrative habits we have, the micro-stories we tell, get hardened over the years, don’t really need to be that way.
Lately there’s a lot that’s been published about the lack of diversity within the Silicon Valley tech community which have been generally populated by a lot of young, white guys and for the most part, still are. So, I was excited to have Anne Bonaparte on the show. I invited her about 8 months ago to come in and chat a little bit about being a mid-stage CEO not just because she's a woman not in her 20s, but really just because she’s outstanding at her job and understands how diversity can come from all sorts of places. Anne’s point of view about how to create healthy conflict at the workplace, and a productive, diverse environment for growth couldn’t be more true today then it was when we chatted eight months ago.
There’s a lot out there about marriage. Recently, who has the right to marry whom, as been all over the media and, as we all know, there’s a massive industry focused on profiting from “that special day.” But what happens after that? The rest of your married life is not so clear. As you grow from young adult to middle age and, if you’re lucky, your golden years— what does marriage look like and what do we expect from each other? This week’s guest, Jenna McCarthy, is the author of many books on relationships and her TED talk on “What you don’t know about marriage” has almost four million views. She’s hilarious and a lot of fun to talk to, you’ll get a lot out of our conversation about what midlife spouses want from each other.