Monday, April 27, 2020

Be Good to Yourselves While Staying Home

Remember how in the movie Cast Away, the Tom Hanks character got so used to sleeping on the ground that, when he was rescued, he preferred it to a bed? That's an example of conditioned behavior. 

Once while I was on a Buddhist meditation retreat, the Sri Lankan monk leading the event explained he would rather sit in a lotus position than in a chair, even if he was watching television. He described how he found it uncomfortable to sit in a chair for long. He told us Westerners this to offer us an alternative point of view to our typical conditions of physical pain and emotional anxiety brought on by spending extended periods of time sitting on a meditation cushion. It's a matter of perspective.

My thoughts have turned lately to wondering about things like how long people can stay in their homes, venturing out only occasionally, before becoming agoraphobic to some extent, and no longer wanting to go out at all. We've all experienced implementing a "temporary" solution and found ourselves still wearing the "Band-Aid" years later. Temporary becomes permanent. You sleep in a cave on a deserted island long enough, you don't even want a bed anymore.

I've also been considering how a lot of our newfound lifestyles may affect our self-images. I used to do things I identified with, many of which I now have not done in weeks. 

At some point we begin asking ourselves how much we really even miss sports bars anymore. Or shooting pool. Or movie popcorn.

How long can you not participate in your career before you begin rethinking your career path? Social distancing, or quarantining, or whatever we each happen to be calling our degree of isolation, carries consequences. They can be good or bad or neutral, and, yes, they are matters of perspectives, but they are real, and there's no "going back" to before. Only going forward.

February and our old lives are gone. We can't return to that time or those moments. We never could return to the past, but our current state of affairs just makes it much more apparent than usual.

In all likelihood, most of us will drop a few bad habits and pick up a few new ones; cease doing some constructive things, yet initiate some new parts of a routine we find beneficial. We'll stop hanging out "here" and eventually start hanging out "there." Time and intention will tell.

And one more thing, perhaps the most important thing, to please consider, guys: Be good to yourselves. This is a time unlike the vast majority of us have ever experienced. Don't be too hard on yourself.

Maybe that big project isn't getting done that you thought you'd tackle during staying at home. Or maybe you still haven't done your damn taxes. Or maybe it's as simple as you're still looking at that mess on the other side of the room you won't clean up day after day. Or all of the above. And that has to be okay for now. 

Most of us got hit with dropping our life as we knew it, going home, and staying there. Hopefully that's the worst of it, but for many, it's not. Regardless, we all have various responsibilities to maintain and levels of stress to deal with.

Maybe the best you can do today is keep yourself safe and not infect others, and that's a pretty good thing to be doing. It's a pretty big project and deal in itself.


  1. In some ways I feel lucky. I retired not long ago and am sharing a small, mortgage-paid home with my also recently retired sister. Having left a trail of failed relationships behind us, we moved in together to share expenses. Living on fixed incomes, we’ve both had to drastically change our lifestyles, no longer mindlessly engaging in former behaviors from buying a new handbag to spontaneously going out to dinner or a movie. So even before the advent of this “new normal”, I’d already been mentally prepared for a total change in how I would be living my life going forward.

    In many ways, this quarantine seems like more of the same that went before (with retirement came cancellation of health club memberships, the end of wasting gas on 100-mile roundtrip drives to clubs, trendy caf├ęs, or gourmet, artisanal food purveyors, a drastic reduction in hairdresser visits to only four a year, no more massages or mani-pedis, etc.).

    The only new hardship is not being able to physically get together with family and friends. And that will likely come back when an “all clear” is sounded (whenever that is). Meanwhile, we are in touch electronically on a regular basis and that helps a lot.

    If I’ve learned one thing from a life that’s been filled with far more drama than I ever wanted, it’s that your entire world can change in the blink of an eye, and you have no control over preventing it. Being in control of our lives and destinies is only an illusion. Sadly, for many people, they’re just now learning that hard life lesson. Today, it’s coronavirus, but it could just as easily been something else.

  2. I see this particular time as a horrifying Sophie's Choice moment. Before one dismisses that statement as hyperbole, consider this: The economy is about to open; We all are faced with a serious conundrum - How many lives will be lost that otherwise wouldn't have in the name of commerce? What is more important, getting the economy moving again or saving lives?

    Of course many people won't have this option. A business reopens, employees are called back to work and people must make the choice of possible infection or a job. There are no worker protections in place yet. If one refuses to return to work out of fear of infection (not only to themselves but family too) they are currently classified as voluntarily refusing work. With that, even unemployment benefits will be denied.

    How is being able to dine at a restaurant more important than saving human lives?

  3. Despite the fact that the media have treated these stories sort of frivolously, the fact that domestic cats and a dog contracted the virus is kind of a big deal. It means that our pets can serve as reservoirs for the virus where it can shelter when it's outside of humans. Our pets can then release the virus back into the human population.
    Absent proven effective, widely-available treatments and vaccines, there is no going back to the way things were. The world we all knew has ended.

    We are now faced with the difficult task of creating a new one that as a routine matter of course takes into account a killer virus remaining at large stalking new victims.

    Assuming that just restarting the economy will restore it is both blind and, forgive me, stupid. Many people, rightly afraid of the virus, given the option won’t return to their old ways. And where they don’t, there will be no economic rebound.

    That painful truth is that some sectors, as they were structured and their jobs, are gone probably forever because many people won’t return as customers or patrons. Those that do could well fall ill in a couple of weeks, thereby scaring others into avoiding those businesses at all costs..

    Since Americans don’t seem to have abandoned their litigious ways (not judging by the number of lawyer commercials I’m still seeing), what happens when the lawsuits for contracting COVID-19 while patronizing or working at a business begin washing in like a tsunami? Are property and casualty insurers going to begin offering COVID-19 business insurance? At what horrifically high price?

    No. There’s no going back to business as usual anytime soon or maybe even ever, not while the virus remains untamed. We all have to swallow that bitter pill and let go of the world of 2019. Energy now must remain focused on creating a new reality that includes a viral pandemic.

  4. Thank you for your words Jack; open hearted and wise.

    May I suggest you share your thoughts more often on non-UFO related areas? I for one would like to read them.

  5. Thanks for your interest and comments, all. Yes, Sam, I may write more on non-UFO topics.