Project Entrope: EPILOGUE ("SHOOK")

Imagine taking a dull blade in your hand and dragging it over a smooth surface. Now, imagine running that blade over and over and over the surface until, eventually, the areas with the deepest grooves become the only pathways that your hand actually follows. "Deep grooves", in our brains, are caused by years of repetitive neural connections and it is these connections make up our Default Mode Network (DMN) and govern most of our thoughts. When we are young, the neural connections in our brains are fluid and unpredictable, this is referred to as a "high entropy" state of consciousness. As we age, we develop more rigid and predictable patterns of connectivity in our brain: "low entropy" states. It is not impossible for the adult brain to break free these neural patterns, and become more entropic, but it is more difficult.

Neuroscientist Robin Carhart-Harris (See: "The Entropic Brain") researches the effects of psychedelic drugs on the brain and refers to it as "shaking the snow globe" because these substances cause the adult brains to break free of their rote neural pathways and experiment with new ways of perceiving the oneself and the world.

Of course, tripping isn't the only way to shake your "globe". Personally, as a result of being forced to adapt to the limitations of a global pandemic and life post-divorce, my own default modes were interrupted and my "globe" was, indeed, shook. So, as an epilogue to mark the 3-month anniversary of the conclusion of "Project Entrope" (an online journal documenting my 8-Week Personal Resilience Journey), I'd like to share a quick update on my new life: from a professional, artistic and social perspective.

My Work

Default Modes: Live Classroom LXD, Facilitation, Coaching, Consulting

New Modes: Virtual Reality (VR) Game Design, Virtual LXD, Virtual Facilitation

I work from home full-time now, which I love. In my current role, I design and pilot new Diversity & Inclusion Learning Experiences for Leaders and Leadership Educators. My favorite project right now is writing scripts and designing interactions for a new VR game. Players engage in conversation with avatars (who they will ultimately annoy and/or offend) and they must take steps to recover, socially and emotionally. I appreciate that, in response to COVID, my company has embraced a full transformation to a "radically digital" learning organization and, in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, they have prioritized the importance of D&I learning, especially for Leaders.

My Art

Default Modes: Stand-Up Storytelling, Trapeze Performance, Physical Theatre

New Modes: Digital Filmmaking, Stop-Motion Animation

I am currently wrapping up filming and production on a short art-film that I wrote and am directing: Alice Light + Dark: Revelations. "Revelations" is about my recent manic episode / spiritual experience, told through live-action physical performance and stop-motion animation. The film will premiere on demand 9/10 through 10/4 for the Philadelphia Digital Fringe Festival and will be re-released in November for the the First Person Arts RAW Festival. All profits earned from this project will be donated to the non-profit news organization Mad in America. The process of adapting my own personal resilience story into an art film has given me an opportunity to reframe and reclaim my narrative, collaborate with friends while also learning some fun new skills (stop-motion animation and video production).

My Social Life

Default Modes: Marriage, Casual Friends, Extended Family, Social Media

New Modes: Parent-Partnership, Close Friends, Alone Time

I live in a small apartment with my son. Over the past few months, he and I donated the majority of our "stuff" to Goodwill and have been preparing to downsize into a tiny house (or other small dwelling). It's something we enjoy planning together and minimalism aligns with my other efforts to live a carbon-neutral lifestyle (mainly plant-based diet, intermittent fasting, composting, growing food plants, driving a fuel-efficient car...etc). I have few"casual" friends post-Divorce and, post-"Project Entrope", I have been very intentional about reducing my social media use. However, the friendships I do maintain are very deep and meaningful to me and I also spend a lot of time alone. The existential dread is often quite intense, but, I've decided that grappling with the "meaning of life" is far more rewarding than seeking partners for sex or romance.

Random thoughts...

  • You have a full range of emotions, why limit yourself to happiness?

  • The stories we tell ourselves and one another create our concept of reality.

  • You don't owe anyone your attention, your friendship or your forgiveness.

Stay shook,

- Justine