School of Moxie Podcast – Season 1, Episode 12 Transcript

[00:00:00] Welcome to the School of Moxie podcast brought to you by Sensible Woo. This is the podcast where we break the mold around business podcast conversations. We make it fun around here by using television, movies, and entertainment as a jumping off point for conversations about how we navigate the world as individuals.
I’m your host, Mary Williams, and I’ve been an online creator since 2010. I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go over the years. But one thing that has persisted is a struggle among entrepreneurs to connect more authentically with their audiences. As a business systems process and operations coach, I’ve seen how much my clients and subscribers have benefited from learning how to incorporate their fun sides.
So we’re going to demonstrate this for you here on this podcast through analogous thinking. Not only that, but we’re using media and entertainment as the lens through which we reflect on our own desires and strengths. Fiction is the vehicle that gives us words to articulate our value systems. And tells people who we are.
I find that a lot of my
[00:01:00] audience, and probably yours as well, struggle to find words for their problems until they start thinking about how to use analogies. Analogies help us build bridges between something we can’t describe into a new area that we are in the process of developing. As humans, we are a languaged species, which means we find context and meaning in our lives through the ability to put our feelings into words.
This podcast is going to help you normalize this process and see how it’s done in real time as my guests talk through their own experiences in relation to the episodes they’ve been assigned for this show. Our first season of this podcast is centered on the first season of the HBO original series, The Last of Us, based on the video game of the same name.
Consider this your official spoiler alert. On this podcast, my guests are going to jump right into the conversation, and we are going to spill all the tea on the story and the plot. So if you enjoy being surprised, I encourage you to watch the episode first before listening to our discussion. Before we get into this week’s episode,
[00:02:00] have I told you about the weekly readings that I create for entrepreneurs just like you each and every week?
I am an Akashic Records and Tarot reader, and I’ve been giving clients intuitive guidance coaching for just about 20 years now. That’s a long time. I know that most readers out there don’t focus on your business needs. So that’s where I come in. Readings with me are only about your business development, and it helps you feel more aligned with your intuitive messages so that you can incorporate those gut feelings and inner knowings into your business data for better results.
Click the link in the show notes and subscribe to my weekly email updates where you can get a free reading sent to your inbox every single week. If you want more, you can subscribe to the weekly extended readings, which are just $9 per month and help you get focused on your business energy every week.
No more Sunday scaries. You’ve got this better in hand than you know, and I’ll help you see it. Now let’s get watching and talking. This is the first
[00:03:00] of a two part episode featuring Erica Courdae. Erica’s recording session. was the final guest interview for the season and she was the only guest booked for studio time while we were in Richmond, Virginia to support a business program where we both serve as mentors to women entrepreneurs.
The studio time came in a block of two hours and knowing Erica and myself, I already had a pretty good idea of how our time on the mic would flow. As expected, we recorded nearly two hours of conversation that brings forth difficult topics and growth moments for our business world. Because there is so much packed into the recording session, I split this episode into two parts to make it easier as a listener to digest it all.
In between episodes, I encourage you to think about the ways in which you avoid or dance around difficult topics in your own business journey. What words can you start to use to help yourself show up with more honesty and freedom in your everyday real life expressions?
If there’s a hill of arguments that I’m willing to die on, it’s the hill of absolutism in entrepreneurship. I see entrepreneurs struggle regularly with their morals, values, and how they want to build a legacy in this world. And it’s difficult to do because nothing we live through is absolute. It’s not black or white.
It’s a full spectrum of grayness. This episode is the final episode in the first season of The Last of Us as a television series. It’s titled, Look for the Light, which is the second half of the Firefly’s motto. When you’re lost in the darkness, look for the light. We are served up a moral dilemma that fans of the video game have been arguing about for over a decade, and now joined by fans of the television series.
I couldn’t think of a better person to talk about rights, wrongs, and all the messy parts in between than my friend, Erica Courdae. Erica is a trusted advisor to entrepreneurs and executive teams committed to shifting focus, power, and resources in order
[00:05:00] to create more equity in their businesses and in the world.
She believes imperfect action is necessary to create meaningful social change and helps public figures engage in the work without fear of judgment. In 2018, Erica co-founded the Pause on the Play podcast. After receiving requests from listeners for a space to connect on the show’s topics, Erica expanded the Pause on the Play brand to include a community and consultancy.
Her leadership has now helped thousands of individuals define their values, diversify their networks, and call people into conversations about inclusivity and individuality. A certified coach and 20 plus year beauty industry veteran, Erica has provided training for established businesses such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Run Like Clockwork and Paul Mitchell School.
Her voice has been featured on podcasts, workshops and online communities with a combined reach of over 50,000 people. It’s badass. Erica, welcome to the show, and thank you for being one of my very first guests who is holding space for Better Business Conversations.
[Erica] Yay!
[Mary] We finally made it! I know, right?
[Erica] I am so excited to do this.
Oh my god, Mary.
[Mary] I know.
[Erica] I’m over the moon to be doing this with you. Seriously.
[Mary] Thank you for saying yes.
[Erica] Um, thank you for asking me. The conversation, I was, you asked me, I said, um, I haven’t seen the show, let me watch it, I’ll see if I like an episode or two, I think I got four minutes in, I was like, alright, I’m done, I’m in, that’s all I needed, I’m absolutely in, and I loved you as soon as I met you, so.
[Mary] I know it was awesome. You sent me an email with a voice note. I kept that email by the way.
[Erica] Because that is, that is so me.
[Mary] Your voice note started with, I’m 40 minutes in and I just have to tell you, I paused it and then you left me like a 40 minute voice note. It was perfect. I mean, there is nobody else I wanted to have
[00:07:00] this conversation
for the final episode of season one of the television series other than you because this is complicated shit and our entrepreneurial community is dealing with a lot of very complicated shit as well. And I feel like we dance around the topics all the time. You and I have bonded over this.
[Erica] Yes.
[Mary] And we’re like, we need to normalize talking about the difficult, hard stuff.
[Erica] Correct.
[Mary] Go where it goes. And we are going to do that today. Um, I also just have to say for our podcast listeners, the base has been growing since the podcast has been coming out. You and I are recording, you are the very last interview that I am recording. And it is also the last episode of the season.
The rest of them are all recorded out of order. And I think there’s something really, really special about this actually being the last interview.
[Erica] I have to say, like, when I went back to, like, re listen and re watch stuff, because I’ve, I
[00:08:00] binged the show months ago. And there was something that felt…
cathartic and yet also a little bit like, oh.
[Mary] Right? Yes.
[Erica] Because it was symbolically an ending and that’s kind of what we’re doing. But yet, we’re almost creating an ending of like, can something end here to figure out what else can start? And I really like figuring out the energy of like what else can happen because something has to end and be composted in order to start something else.
So I am very much like, what can we put to bed?
[Mary] Well, let’s start at the end. We’re at the ending of all endings.
[Erica] Right.
[Mary] So, so we get to the end of the end of this final episode in the season, Joel has chosen Ellie’s life over the potential of saving humanity through a vaccine that would have resulted
[00:09:00] with Ellie’s death.
There’s ongoing discussions and debates. Um, they give lots of evidence that people are firmly in one camp or the other. They’re either pro Ellie surviving or they believe that sacrifice is needed for the collective to survive. And we’re not going to debate that part today. But rather, what I want us to do is talk about how someone makes decisions like this.
Because decisions with ramifications show up in business all the time. But hopefully, it’s a lot less dramatic.
[Erica][That part. Please.
[Mary] Please, that part. Um, and my question for you is, you know, do you think entrepreneurs actually pull a Joel on a regular basis and make decisions regardless of the morality issue? Or do you think we have a lot of people who are actually stuck in a freeze state?
[Erica] Oh, they pull a Joel on a daily damn basis. Because there is a place of not even being able to hold capacity for anything beyond what impacts me right now.
[00:10:00] How do I feel about this? How will this impact the way people process me? Yeah. And so, I mean, So much of what has happened over the past few years, everything with COVID, everything after, you know, social justice uprisings, which really were just another part of a cycle because that’s how these things work.
Noticing what’s happening with, you know, having movies come out that are specifically trying to call out the systems. And yet, we still can’t actually do the thing to try to fix what’s wrong. We can’t say, oh, something else has to replace it. And so as opposed to figuring out, oh, well, what does that mean if I don’t do that?
It’s like, mm, no, that’s gonna hurt if I do that. So I’m not going to stop doing something that’s harmful. I’m just gonna keep doing it. Because, well, yes, this is
[00:11:00] better for humanity. But what does that mean for me?
[Mary] I love that you’re bringing up this very nuanced thing that I think is a very slippery slope for all of us, which is that everything is an action.
Everything is a choice.
[Erica] Absolutely.
[Mary] And to not make a decision, to engage in action, is still an action.
[Erica] That’s an absolute action. No action is an action. Not making a decision. It’s absolutely making a decision is whether or not you make it actively or passively and people are afraid to make the wrong one. So they’re more likely to make a passive decision and attempt to find a way to write it off as if well I didn’t do that.
Yeah, absolutely fucking did
[Mary] It’s a form of bypassing.
[Erica] It is a form of trying to find a way to outsource the blame Or the shame because you don’t want to take responsibility. You don’t want to take responsibility for the ownership of the thought, the action, what happens after the fact,
[00:12:00] what got you here.
You don’t want to think about that. How can I, because if I, if I don’t get too close. I didn’t do it. By osmosis, I can opt out. I didn’t do that.
[Mary] And yet, at the same time, people want, like the voyeurism thing is so big right now. People want to watch it all go down and happen, and I’m like, that’s an action too, y’all.
[Erica] It is. And it’s like, people like to, ooh, I saw it. I saw everything that happened. Oh, so you passively watched fucked shit happen. You were okay to watch this travesty unfold. Do nothing. You are okay to watch systems on a daily basis wreak havoc and do nothing.
[Mary] This is why I wanted to take the analogies from movies and TV shows and put them into a conversation space.
Because I feel like in the real world of our, like, everyday lives, we watched a lot of that happen. We watched people do it with George Floyd in the summer of 2020.
[00:13:00] We watched people do it with all things COVID, vaccines, mandates, all the things, all the things. And in the entrepreneurial community, I mean, you and I were having a conversation about this on the way to the studio here about the coaching industry and people just sort of watching these things happen and
and, and I really feel like utilizing a piece of fiction like this, I mean, now we’ve had all these other interviews before you that have already aired, and I feel like I’m beating a dead horse, but at the same time, I’m like, I think I need to because we need a safe space to practice the act of getting out of a passive state and into a space of like, okay, I watched a show full of trauma, and we’ll talk about more trauma in a minute, but like we, we just watched it all.
It’s a piece of fiction. Let’s practice in a safe space, having discussions about those kinds of concepts and emotions and the coulda, woulda, shouldas you might be feeling about
[00:14:00] your own life’s experience. The stakes are lower. But then it enables you to engage in the world in a way that’s more ethical, you’re more conscious of your choices, even the words that come out of your mouth.
[Erica] Well, let’s just even think about when we say words like conscious or ethical, okay? Conscious is just simply acknowledging that I have a level of awareness, not just in theory, but in practice. And when we talk about ethics, there is a point to where there’s always going to be some nuance because there’s family of origin, there’s culture, there’s religion, there’s location, there’s you know, age and how generation will play into it, there’s class, socioeconomic status, immigration status, sexual orientation, as well as gender identity.
There’s all of these things that play into it. And yet, we can’t even find the place
[00:15:00] to acknowledge the bare bones minimum of can we just not let people have harm done to them when they’ve actively told you this fucking hurts and you keep letting it hurt. So even if you can’t agree on everything, if I tell you this hurts, can you trust that I understand what pain is?
And that I don’t want to hurt. Can we just, can we just agree on some basic shit?
[Mary] Oh, I’m even thinking about the people before that stage who haven’t even been able to articulate yet. That thing fucking hurts.
[Erica] Well, because you first hit that point of like, this is really uncomfortable, and I don’t know what I’m feeling, but I know that whatever I’m feeling, I can’t say it because it’s not safe for me to say it.
[Mary] Yeah.
[Erica] And then eventually you’re like, wait, that’s pain. You, at this point, you’ve gone through discomfort and, and, and confusion and all of these things trying to get there. And you’re
[00:16:00] like, that’s painful. That just doesn’t feel good. That’s not what I want to feel. And then it’s like, oh, now I got to actually communicate this to somebody else.
Understand myself, communicate it, articulate it. And then translate it to them in hopes that they will not only witness me, but respond and let something change.
[Mary] Oh, yes. And I feel like it’s so well modeled through the brilliant acting of Bella Ramsey in the very final scene where she’s like, tell me the truth.
And you can see it in her eyes. You can see the thoughts running through her head, where she’s like, I know.
[Erica] She knows.
[Mary] And he knows that she knows.
[Erica] The interesting piece is, you know she knows. She has been through so much before she even knew what going through stuff was.
[00:17:00] And yet, even in that moment, there is like a, a blip that you’re like. Does she actually want the truth from him? Or does she want comfort? Does she want reassurance?
Because for once, she is at a point that she just might have something that she can find a certain amount of this is real in it, in this fucked up apocalyptic ass world that they live in. And yet, you don’t really know what she’s seeking. Because you already know she knows.
And at the same time, do you want me to confirm or do you want me to give you the answer that you really want, even if you don’t know what it is that you want, but you don’t want the truth.
[Mary] The confusion in the space between them, I mean, you can cut the air with a knife like it is.
[Erica] But yet there’s no confusion on his part of like, Oh, I didn’t do that.
I didn’t do that. He, the, the, the,
[00:18:00] if there was ever a need to have a textbook example of disassociation.
[Mary] Yeah.
[Erica] The fact that it was like that, I’m taking down everybody because this baby here is leaving. This is what we will not do. And I don’t care what else happens. I don’t care who else doesn’t make it up.
I will. And so will she. Period. There was, there was no hesitation. There was no question of nothing. So in that moment, the only person that’s sure of anything is Joel.
[Mary] The self preservation that character goes through.
[Erica] Is it self preservation? Or. Is it a, again, this is a very un normal reality in comparison to what we consider reality.
And is it, is it self preservation or is it just him? Being able to, for once, that he never thought he would
[00:19:00] have again, want to experience something that feels so fleeting that to turn his back on it and give it up almost felt blasphemous. Because after everything he went through to come full circle and have somebody hand you a daughter, there’s a part of him that’s like, I’m not even trying to save myself because he didn’t care if he got killed, he just wanted to get her out.
And so his own well being didn’t matter. Now self preservation from the perspective of I want to be present for this experience, yes. But self preservation of I need to be preserved, no. I think it really was just I need to preserve you. So self preservation in that respect, but he
[00:20:00] gave up on himself a long time ago in my opinion. The only hope he had is her because he didn’t have anything before she came around and gave two shits. The most he had was Tess and Tess couldn’t get through to him.
[Mary] Yes, Tess. I love Tess.
[Erica] Just remember I don’t know what episode it was. She was like, I mean I know I told you how I felt and you don’t feel that way and that’s fine.
And he did love her in his way, because you could, when she, when she stayed in there and they came and got her, he was hurt.
[Mary] He was so hurt.
[Erica] He was as hurt as he was able to muster for where he was at that point. But he was hurt. That was hard. He couldn’t hold space for Tess. He couldn’t.
[Mary] You know, it’s so funny you talk about Joel and his identity and I’m like, in my mind, rewinding episodes backwards in my mind right now.
And I’m like, when’s the last time I saw him appear to have like a solid sense of this is my identity
[00:21:00] and it’s breakfast with Sarah. It’s in the pilot episode.
[Erica] I was gonna say.
[Mary] And then, and then it’s just gone after that. And my question for you is because we’re doing an analogous thinking exercise here.
How much do you think entrepreneurs are suffering that same thing where it’s like if you rewound the episodes of life backwards, you would find where they felt they had an identity. And then it’s just been gone for years, decades. And, and COVID really showed this. And I think that’s why COVID was so hard.
I think that’s why people are still not recovering from it. Still, because the truth is, the actuality of it is, is you’ve been lacking your identity longer than you consciously were aware of it.
[Erica] So I’m going to, I’m going to give you, uh, an example, kind of almost like a character study and I’m going to use myself as the example.
[Mary] Okay.
[Erica] So I’ve been an entrepreneur for over
[00:22:00] 15, 16, 17 years. And when I initially started, I was heavily in the beauty industry and it was challenging because I had to almost put parts of myself away because a lot of the clientele that I worked with were white women. And I would sometimes have the challenge of them being like, oh this black girl
with natural hair is going to do my hair and it’s like, yes, actually.
[Mary] You were the only person I would trust with my hair. I have the weirdest mix of crazy Asian girl hair with like weird textured white girl hair. And I’m like, nobody’s ever known what to do with it.
[Erica] Because people look at you in the same.
And that’s the thing that I never did even when I was an instructor back in the day. And so like, I felt like there were so many times that I had to kind of put that away. for people to come in and actually figure out what I was doing and be like, Oh, oh, you good at this. Okay, cool. And then we were fine because the day of I would always walk in the
[00:23:00] weddings and nobody ever wanted to go first.
Nobody, they were like, I am not going to be the sacrificial lamb today, not me. And then once they saw that I knew what I was doing, they’re like, Oh, I’ll go next. And so I felt like I had a hard time with that. And before marriage equality was legalized, I had made it very clear that for us, love is love.
And we serviced everybody and I made it very clear and I put this online. I’m like, if that is not something that you feel good about, kick rocks. I don’t want your money. And that was before it was like a cooler and in thing to do. I did it because my ethics were like, I don’t want to deal with that if that’s what you want to do.
Because there was a point to where I couldn’t have gotten married to somebody that wasn’t Exactly like me. And because somebody else wants to dictate what you can or cannot do, for whatever reason, whether
[00:24:00] it’s because you’re in love, whether it’s because it’s out of convenience, or because y’all got an agreement, who am I to tell you that you can’t?
And there was a point to where I was very, very, very vocal about it. And at the same time, I also recognized that I’m a Black woman in an industry that is not majority me, is not necessarily as open and, and inviting as that. So I knew that that was going to impact, um, how much money I could or could not make within the business.
And then as I began to actually figure out, okay, I don’t know what any of this online coaching stuff is. And then when I chose to become a coach. There was a place of like, wait, so I’ve been doing hair for all this time and supporting people and their identity and who they are and how they are and how they’re processed by other people, how they’re processed by themselves, and I’m going into a different
[00:25:00] facet of it with this, however.
Do you trust me to be the one to support you? Can I show up as myself, the curvy Black girl with natural hair that’s going to cuss? And, and, you know, I am who I am. And I had to put parts of myself away. I can look back at the colors that I would choose or the word choices that I wouldn’t indulge in the ways that I would, um, be in certain spaces and people would love to tote me around because look at my Black girl.
And there were times to where it was like, well shit, I don’t like it. And if I say no, then there’s nobody in the room.
[Mary] Yes.
[Erica] If I say no, then nothing changes.
[Mary] The burden of saying
[00:26:00] no, girl, I have been there.
[Erica] And, and then you’re like. Even when you say yes, passively, because you’re there. You’re not there in totality.
[Mary] No.
[Erica] Because you don’t know me. I had to put parts of myself away to just be present for the fact that you wanted to commodify me. And I knew what was happening, but I also knew that I didn’t want someone else to do it, and I was willing to be put in that situation because I did opt into it. And I hated the fact that it had to even fucking be a thing.
I had somebody once at an event that came up to me, she’s still a friend of mine to this day, and she said, I just wanted to check on you and just find out, are you okay? How does it feel to be the only Black person in this space?
[Mary] Oh, oh, thank God.
[Erica] The funny part was it was an event held at my actual physical space.
[Mary] Oh wow.
[Erica] So I used to have two more locations in my space and literally I was
[00:27:00] the only, only black person.
[Mary] Oh my God, while you’re talking and I’m thinking, and I’m just thinking about so many people out there where you don’t feel, they don’t feel safe to full, to be their fullest expression. Correct. I’m going to call it some other examples to just to like give listeners a chance to anchor in.
And I’m thinking like hearing you talk about your experience as a Black woman is making me think about. All my years as the one woman in the room full of dudes in the technology department, and especially an Asian woman at that, and, you know, being toted around as, look, we have a woman. And like, and when you’re in those situations, you, you don’t, you show up in the way that will make other people comfortable.
[Erica] And you don’t even know that you’re doing it sometimes.
[Mary] No, because you’ve grown up that way. You’ve had to exist in that out of survival.
[Erica] Thank you for saying that, because so many people don’t understand that that deference that comes to making other people
[00:28:00] comfortable around you is a safety mechanism.
[Mary] Yes.
[Erica] It’s not just because I want you to be okay, it’s because I need to be okay. And I don’t know if I’m in danger. If you’re not okay.
[Mary] Oh my God, you know, it’s so funny because like I’m looking at the points that we mapped out before we sat down in the studio and the second point was this question about, you know, about how Joel chooses to lie to Ellie, which he does.
[Erica] He does.
[Mary] But now I’m like, is it really a question about lying? Because I was like, do we lie more often than we think we do? Because we’re trying to justify a means to an end, or is it this? Is it or is it all the gray in between like a combination of all those things? You know, are we lying or are we out of safety, you know, doing the behavior we know, and also the world is only ready for a certain amount of whatever.
[Erica] The challenge is, is that whenever we go to polar opposites or binaries, good or bad, truth and lies, we leave a lot of nuance on the table. We leave a lot
[00:29:00] of, of, of why, and a lot of context there. Now, do I think that there are some things that are, are more cut and dry sometimes? Sometimes, yes, but… Even then, I think there’s a lot of room for gray area to be explored, and it often isn’t.
That’s the same way that it could be really easy to say, did he lie to her? Well, okay, if he doesn’t lie to her, what is the real truth of what happened? Well, I had a choice to either let them cut you and you’re just, you’re just going to die. And I chose not to because I had a split second decision to make.
And I like to, to just say, are you lying to me? It’s not just that simple. It’s not just that simple. And it’s challenging because you have this person who Ellie has lived her life. And I think. All of her
[00:30:00] behaviors, she’s exhibited this need to feel like she is a part of something purposeful, meaningful, bigger than herself, because her herself feels small, tiny, insignificant.
And at the same time, you know, to just to just be like, yeah, you could be a part of something, but you didn’t give her a choice and you entrust her with somebody and this person now is supposed to, without fail, trust these other people that what they say is what they’re going to do when his entire existence has been trust no one.
There’s some gray area here. And I think as much as Ellie has this true desire to want to be a part of something good in this fucked up world. She is
[00:31:00] part of something good because she is the only person that got through to Joel. She is the person that spent hours in a derelict mall and just experienced joy in a way that so many other people would never get the chance to again.
She got the opportunity to connect with Sam before he lost who he was.
[Mary] Oh, Sam.
[Erica] Like, she missed all of these points in which case she was, so much more impactful than the, you know, totality of her existence felt like to her. And I don’t say that to minimize her processing of herself, but it can be so easy to feel like, none of this matters.
None of it matters. And yet, she was
[00:32:00] just, I mean, she was the bright spot in all of this.
[Mary] She is the bright spot in all those spaces. I love how you’re pulling out all those points. And I’m also really thinking about what you said, like, how often do we pay attention to the full story? The full backstory?
And that it can’t be distilled down, like, our communications have gotten so short now, and you can’t get the full story in short little Tweets or whatever the heck they are these days, or, or even, you know, a short little DM or even an email. I mean, we have to have conversation and, you know, I’ve been feeling all year that long form content is starting to have a fresh dawn again.
There’s a new day that’s dawning in long form content because we’re realizing that we need space to examine all of the nuance, because it gets, it’s, the world is so
[00:33:00] fucking complicated.
[Erica] It, it is, and we’re trying to figure out how it is that we digest it. And not just for the sake of digesting it. It’s like, are you eating because you want to enjoy it?
Or are you eating just because you felt like you were supposed to? Because I could write long form content all day long, but if that does not prompt you to consider how it is that you are showing up in tandem with those around you, if it doesn’t make you consider what are the… experiences of those around me beyond just what I know and how does that make them who that they are and how it is that I, like, how can I consider all of these pieces?
Because if I wrote something and it didn’t remind you that, you know, for years,
[00:34:00] I used to try to grow plants and I felt like I killed everything and I had a black thumb and all of a sudden one day I could. And what really hit me about it was finally realizing within the past year that my grandmother who passed away when I was 17 had finally passed on her green thumb to me.
And how that’s a part of the way that I want to foster life. And life is not just about the life that we have. Life is what blooms within the life that we are existing in.
[Mary] Oh, that is such a beautiful quote.
[Erica] And so like if you don’t think about that as a part Of how it is that I’m interacting with you, you’re gonna miss pieces of me to know that I am someone that lost their dad at 12 and he was 37.
And me now at 44. I have lived longer than he did. And so, so much of what I do is to honor the time that I was given
[00:35:00] that he was not, and if that doesn’t come up for you to consider how important it is for me to foster and, and to genuinely. care about connection and how it is to be in community with people.
Well, that piece that I wrote that was long form didn’t matter because it didn’t let you know more about me that you were willing to actually receive. So you’re still going to process me the same. You’re still going to miss it.
[Mary] Not performative.
[Erica] Correct.
[Mary] This topic of performative actions has come up again and again and again in interviews for the season and I find that fascinating.
I think we’re at the time where we are ready to look at, I don’t want it performative anymore. I also need to find my identity. Who am I in this world now? How do I choose to exist in it?
[Erica] Who am I right now?
[Mary] Yeah.
[Erica] Because, and I was having this conversation with a good friend of mine
[00:36:00] the other day and it’s like if we think about it from even like a simple place of like, someone who is, uh, feminine or woman facing, there’s like maiden, mother, crone.
Okay, these kind of three phases that they say we go through. Clearly you’re not doing or thinking or behaving in the same way through all of those. So why are we supposed to be the same person throughout our entire life? We are who we are right now because of what we have experienced, the, the stimulus that we are currently experiencing, and the possibility of what may be to come.
But to put somebody in a box and say, you are, period, that’s not what this is about. It’s about the honoring of this is who and what I am right now, and I reserve the right to change it when the fuck I feel like it.
[Mary] Yes. It’s so funny. I’m thinking right now about all the events that happened in this show and the, who am I right now?
What has
[00:37:00] changed? I feel like the people who exhibit that the most, who figure that out, sadly all die off.
[Erica] Well, there’s that.
[Mary] So that happens. And then you’ve got Joel and Ellie who are dancing around it. They’re not talking about it, but they’re very aware that they have changed. I mean, they kind of talk about it where, you know, he tells her about, you know, after Sarah died that he tried to kill himself too, and he feels that it’s not time that healed things, it’s his relationship with her, so, but the, sort of like an archetype of energy that doesn’t seem to want to give up the ghost, it’s the Fireflies and Fedra.
Well, as I was actually thinking, I’m like, I feel like Marlene, kind of just Marlene all the way through.
[Mary] Marlene is just like, this is my mission, this is what I want.
[Erica] Period.
[Mary] And she’s like, she has changed too, and he walks in and he has changed, and she tells him. Like, how the hell did you make it here, like, and
[00:38:00] she sees there’s a difference in him so much that she tries to extricate him from the venue entirely, and, and yet she’s like, doggedly in this pursuit of, right.
I’m gonna, I’m gonna stick to the thing and I’m gonna do that thing.
[Erica] Mm hmm. Well, and enough of her change that she even gave Ellie to Joel.
[Mary] Yeah.
[Erica] Because as far as being the leader of the Fireflies, really, her mission would be like, Oh, no, no, no, no. We’re not jeopardizing the mission for anything. Period. If we really look at pretty much everybody, You know, Tommy might be one of the only other ones, again.
Tommy seemed like he was pretty much Tommy the whole way through, which was probably why him and Joel had such challenges, because Tommy was always kind of like, I’m not really with all this struggle. I don’t really know how I feel about this. He always kind of had this moral conflict. Which, that moral conflict is
[00:39:00] part of why Joel kept trying to keep him alive.
Because he didn’t have that thing that Joel had that did keep him alive, because he was just going to kill everybody else. And that thing that Marlene had, you know, and even, like, you know, Tess had it, other people had it, but it just doesn’t seem like the way that Joel and Ellie shifted and evolved just in that, you know, kind of seasonal shift that we literally watched them go through.
We didn’t see that type of… kind of growth or arc. Now granted, we were obviously observing them very differently. But it didn’t seem like that was happening in the same way with everybody else.
[Mary] It didn’t seem like it was happening in that way. And I love that you point out that Marlene did shift enough to say, you know what, I’m going to change the immediate logistics and send Ellie with you, Joel and Tess.
But by the time we meet up with her
[00:40:00] again at the end, she flips back to…
[Erica] She, well, and the funny thing is, is if you think about it, like there’s these kind of like definitive timeline pieces. So like there’s when Ellie is born and she’s like, fuck, I don’t even know if this kid is infected or not.
And whether or not she wants to even save this child, but you know that there’s enough of a softness there where she’s like. This is my friend. I have to at least pause to consider. She did the same thing again when she told them to not kill Ellie. When the whole mall thing happened. And then she she took her.
Aand then said hey Joel take this gir. But then when we get to the end you saw just just enough of a flicker for her to give Joel just enough space to go full metal check everybody and so there was just and This was this was something that was pointed out. I
[00:41:00] think in the official podcast in that when Marlene says, just let me go, you can’t let her go.
[Mary] No.
[Erica] That’s just like saying, Joel, I’m gonna let you go. You don’t let people like that go.
[Mary] No, the two of them are very…
[Erica] You can’t let them go, and that’s the thing. You are smart enough to know like, I shouldn’t have said that, because now I have to kill you, because I know, I know you’re going to come back for me.
And I’m not going to be looking over my shoulder, because I know that you will come for me until you get me. So let’s just take you out now. Let’s just, let’s just not do this because he could have left her there, but he was smart enough to know. And they were almost mirrors of each other.
[Mary] They really were in the end.
It’s fascinating, right?
[Erica] Right.
[Mary] That was a lot of truth bombs in one episode. I’m going to encourage you to let all of those thoughts marinate in your brain for about a week. And we’ll pick back up with Erica next week. For the conclusion about our discussion around the messy
[00:42:00] endings in life and business and how to navigate difficult topics as entrepreneurs.
This television series has so much to offer us in discussion based on the fictional story alone, but the business side of it is just as impactful. I’m Mary Williams, your host and the founder of Sensible Woo. You can watch the HBO original series, The Last of Us on As a librarian, I will always encourage you to check out the companion book Bittersweet by Susan Cain at your local library.
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Like and follow Sensible Woo on YouTube, Instagram, and don’t forget to subscribe to email updates at, which includes a weekly tarot reading delivered right to your inbox. Until next week, be sensible, be woo, and most of all, be you.[00:43:00]