387: Maja Rosén: Leading not flying

2020-09-21

The not-flying-by-choice community is fairly small. About 80 percent of humans can't fly because they can't, but among people who can but choose not to, we're limited. Still, I can't believe I only found out about Maja recently. A few minutes into her TEDx talk, I knew I had to bring her on. She's avoided flying about double how long I have. I could hear from her every sentence that she's had to face all the addiction speaking of people claiming what I did before I challenged myself to go that first year without flying---"I can't avoid it," "the plane was going to fly anyway," and all that. You know the feeling of understanding and support you get when you talk with someone who has shared a rare experience, nearly universally misunderstood? More than personal understanding, she revealed a situation I dreamed of and intellectually knew would happen, but hadn't heard of. For ten years people in Sweden said what everyone here says about not flying being impossible and all that addiction speaking. Then in the past few years it changed. The logic behind not flying didn't change. The pandemic hadn't hit. Their values didn't change. People talk about how Sweden's culture differs, but this change happened within Sweden, not between Sweden and some other place. She said that when they crossed a threshold of people who considered not flying, people started changing, I believe because their neighbors did. She described how a couple editorials from Swedish celebrities choosing to avoid flying influenced a lot. It sounded like my strategy for this podcast. I'm trying to reach a critical mass of people, focusing on influential people, to where people know someone who has acted. I can't tell you how much our conversation warmed my heart for feeling understood on something I value and for which I felt vulnerable and enthusiastic for seeing a light at the end of a tunnel I've been in now in my fifth year. I can't wait for when culture changes and people treat flying like a rare occasion. I was there. I looked the other way to avoid facing my pollution.  There's a way out. We can shake the addiction. The main way out is spending more time with family and your community, gaining more control over your career. It feels impossible. When people around us change, we change. When we change first and others follow, that's leadership. You can help lead us out of this mess.

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