Johnnie Moore

Embracing absurdity

Why a sense of the absurd will help us manage better
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Embracing absurdity before it embraces us

Transcript of this video:

I was talking to a friend recently about absurdity. And I was trying to explain how I think absurdity and a sense of absurd are an important facet of being unhurried, which is a big theme in my work.

I think it was a bit of a surprise because I think a lot of people think unhurried is simply about going at a different pace or at a slower pace.

So here’s why I think absurdity fits it. I think having a sense of the absurd is one of the ways in which we can open more creative space for ourselves.

And I think that’s a deeper sense of what I think being unhurried is. Being less stressed, less pent up, and more open and able to see more possibilities. And I think a sense of the absurd plays an important role in that.

I remember at school in biology, one experiment sticks in my mind. It involved taking a stick of celery and dipping it in a little bowl of blue dye.

And then watching as the blue dye rose up through the apparently inert celery stick revealing that there was life there. That there was capillary action. And this is the way in which plants are able to draw moisture and nutrition from the soil.

And I think absurdity is a bit like that blue dye. When we run it through any of our human systems, it reveals something about what’s really going on.

I grew up as a massive fan of Monty Python. And so much of Monty Python’s stuff seems to brilliantly run the blue dye of absurdity through our systems.

So if you think of a scene like, you know, the revolutionaries’ meeting in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian,” where they have these rather formal agenda-led meetings about absurd situations.

What I laugh at in that scene is not the silly situation that they’ve set up, but the underlying pomposity of the meeting structure. And of course, Python was a fabulous riposte to that sort of fifties & sixties Britain of repression and orthodoxy.

And having that kind of sense of absurdity actually allows us to see truth more clearly. And I also think that we are living in pretty absurd times.

Many of the crises we face seem to be placing us on the brink of something that looks like madness. And if our only reaction to that absurdity is to get stressed and to get furiously angry, we’re gonna get stuck.

It’s a little bit of a caricature, but if we respond to it like a John Cleese, like a Basil Fawlty, we’re gonna be immensely stressed. If we respond to it like Michael Palin, we’re more likely to be able to embrace the absurdity.

And I think that will cast a light on how we can manage in those very stressful situations.

Or as I wrote the other day, and I’m not sure if I’ve got it exactly right, but, you know, I wonder if we don’t develop our capacity to embrace the absurd, then the absurd is quite likely to embrace us.

Photo by Dawin Rizzo on Unsplash

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