The Pause
People standing and sitting around a recreational fire in a backyard. A house is visible in the background.

The On Being team in Krista's backyard. Image by Matt Martinez. 

From Krista: Friends, I’m so happy to introduce you here for the first time to Romy Nehme, who joined us this year as our VP of Experience and Strategy. She is leading the creation of our Lab for the Art of Living — helping us expand our offerings of content and tools and convenings while turning them into an “ecosystem of accompaniment.” We’ll have much more to share about that in coming months, but for now, without further ado:

Dear People of On Being,

I wonder how you might begin to answer the question of what it means to be human… That large, perplexing, cavernous question with no single answer and a million worthy reflections that has given so many brave On Being guests pause… 

Now imagine pondering the question of what it means to be the most human human.

The On Being team and I have just come back from spending a full week at our Minneapolis office. The space is exquisite, with an enviable structure: open-concept with tall, majestic, floor-to-ceiling windows and a honey-kissed wooden skeleton that’s been aching for a fuller return of human bodies to bring their aliveness and warmth.

Krista welcomed us into the week with the invitation to notice what it felt like to be bodies in the company of other bodies — to remember the distinct affordances of relating, conversing, and creating together in person, especially once we would go back to being digitally rendered and against the edges of square boxes and dispersed time zones.

As a component of our time together, each member of our team arrived with a book in hand, inscribed with a note of how something in its pages had been formative to them. The book I had reached for was The Most Human Human by poet, philosopher, and computer scientist, Brian Christian. The book begins with a loaded provocation regarding artificial intelligence: maybe it’s not so much that machines are encroaching on the distinct qualities we humans possess, but that, perhaps, we’ve been receding in our own humanity. It’s a brash statement for Christian, who has been invited to participate in the inverse Turing test against AI bots with a chance to not only fight for “team human,” but also win the prize for being the most human human. 

In preparing for this challenge, Christian is told to “just be yourself” — as if that’s not the work of a lifetime. Unsatisfied, he stumbles upon a philosopher studying Nietzsche, who brings depth to that advice through the insight of “being one self, any self.” It turns out that those sneaky bots, no matter how skillful they are at pretending they’re human, are always just gaming the conversation. Absent any higher order coherence, or sense of the whole, they fall short.

It fascinates me — and perhaps you can relate — how books have an odd way of finding us as we’re asking questions that haven’t yet revealed themselves. The book fair turned out to be a revealing example of how showing up and bumping up against each other in our highest fidelity — thick, fully dimensional and inimitably human form — allows for a deeply moving exploration of the humans that make up On Being and how we come together to form a kind of polyphonic organism. 

Aerial view of books spread across a carpet on the floor.

The spread of books offered by On Being staff during our recent time together at our Minneapolis office — each chosen by different hands from those that carried them into the week. Image by Lilian Vo.

We also spent time during the week digesting our learnings from the listener survey we launched at the beginning of summer (thank you to the almost 10,000 who gifted us with your time and reflections). It was a highlight of our time together, getting to know you through the thousands of words, photos, stories, and longings so many of you shared with us. Through them, we see The On Being Project and ourselves mirrored in your suspension of certainty in favor of something much less this-or-that way, yet so much more interesting.

And this week, we’ve warmed our podcast feeds back up as we turn to autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. More about our latest offerings below.


With gratitude,


VP of Experience and Strategy


Tune in


Poetry Unbound
David Wagoner

A person is lost, and in panic. A calm voice says strangely comforting things.

Michael Kleber-Diggs
Gloria Mundi

Is there life after death? This poem says yes: where one life is part of a cycle of life that continues.

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