March 17, 2020

"Wow. 12 days ago I began a silent meditation in the desert. We were totally isolated. No phone, no communication etc. We had no idea..."

"... what was happening outside the facility. Walked out yesterday into a very different world. One that's been changed forever. Mind blowing — to say the least. I'm getting messages from friends and family all around the globe and catching up on what's going on. Hope you and yours are ok. Sending positive energy to all. Stay inside. Stay safe."

Writes the actor Jared Leto on Instagram.

Maybe your life already involved so much isolation that the new requirements of social distancing only mean that other people are forced to be like you. The voluntary self-isolators among us may be able to give us some perspective of what we need to do.

I'm not so isolated that I was like Leto, not hearing the news. I'm watching the news — in my way — every day. But I keep a distance from people in real life — not as much as the new rules of social distancing require, but I don't have to change very much, and I am comfortable living this way and I don't have any immediate responsibilities that make it hard for me to tighten up the seclusion and contribute to the group effort.

Thinking about people like Leto who choose a 12-day silent meditation in the desert may be of some help in thinking how to use the solitary time that has been imposed on you. Perhaps you will sit quietly in your room and do nothing. Meditate!

It's a good idea not to watch the continual flow of news reports, many of which are designed to make you feel bad, to increase the difficulty of doing what you need to do.

Less rigorous than the Jared-Leto-silent-meditation approach to living in seclusion is the Althouse approach. I like it. I read things that feel valuable to me and I put some of my thoughts into words and accept interaction from strangers who read and write here and elsewhere. I have the great benefit of a companion here with me, someone to talk with in a comfortable and supportive way, to be calm with, to help and to be helped by. I care for my health — and that includes eating the right things in the right amount, going for a sunrise run and a midday walk, sleeping well, and not stressing out.

You can think about what you are missing, but maybe, too, you'll think about the things you were doing that you don't really miss. Simplify! Here's Thoreau on the subject:
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.... Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion.... The nation itself, with all its so called internal improvements, which, by the way are all external and superficial, is just such an unwieldy and overgrown establishment, cluttered with furniture and tripped up by its own traps, ruined by luxury and heedless expense, by want of calculation and a worthy aim, as the million households in the land; and the only cure for it as for them is in a rigid economy, a stern and more than Spartan simplicity of life and elevation of purpose. It lives too fast. Men think that it is essential that the Nation have commerce, and export ice, and talk through a telegraph, and ride thirty miles an hour, without a doubt, whether they do or not; but whether we should live like baboons or like men, is a little uncertain....

50 comments:

Ice Nine said...

>>"Walked out yesterday into a very different world. One that's been changed forever."<<

Well, Jared sure didn't waste any time spreading silly hysteria, did he.

rehajm said...

Jared Leto kicking himself for not starting his silent meditation a couple weeks later. Welcome back to the suck...

Jamie said...

Ok,now... I'm good with Thoreau as a philosopher examine the individual life. But by this quote, he understands ZERO about economics and how it relates to the individual life. And someone was doing his laundry while he was off philosophizing at the pond, I understand. And no kids, which I think goes without saying.

rhhardin said...

Thoreau wrote that within sight of civilization, his audience.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I mean, do you get why people say you are tone-deaf?

Oso Negro said...

Yeah, Thoreau is a great model for practical living.

Ken B said...

Off topic, here is a good simulation of various approaches. It is alas a WaPo page, but it is worth looking at anyway.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/corona-simulator/

Be sure to read the last paragraph

rhhardin said...

Imagine what Thoreau could have said if there'd been Amazon. Not just snowplow drivers that come by.

If the snow lies deep, they strap on his snow-shoes, and with the giant plow, plow a furrow from the mountains to the seaboard, in which the cars, like a following drill-barrow, sprinkle all the restless men and floating merchandise in the country for seed. All day the fire-steed flies over the country, stopping only that his master may rest, and I am awakened by his tramp and defiant snort at midnight, when in some remote glen in the woods he fronts the elements incased in ice and snow; and he will reach his stall only with the morning star, to start once more on his travels without rest or slumber.

Lucid-Ideas said...

Leto is a legendary weirdo.

Owen said...

Thoreau writes beautifully, which tends to candy-coat the arrogant totalitarianism of his viewpoint. He knows best what everyone should do, and if given power he would soon square the nation away. Ascetic America.

Lucky for us, Thoreau stuck to writing essays that mostly just charmed other immature minds with a lyrical solipsism.

jaydub said...

Can we change the term "social distancing" to "socio-economic distancing" because that's the real danger now. When everyone is hunkered down in a bunker the economic affect on the country is most likely worse than the social affect of the disease and is going to crush those living on the edge or trying to start or keep a small business, i.e., this hysteria is going to be incredibly expensive and disruptive to the short and long term health of both the economy and the population. All of the assumptions associated with the isolation method mandates discount the fact that new weapons to fight the disease are being rapidly developed. We are most likely weeks away from some type of break through that will totally change what is necessary to stop this pandemic. Already scientists are discussing buying time for vaccine development by short term inoculation of the more vulnerable among us using antibodies in the blood of recovered patients. The point is that this is not a static fight and the chicken little approach is counterproductive. If one is in a susceptible age group (I'm 75) then one is obligated to protect himself through self isolation but it does not require the governments to destroy the economy or my grand children's education or economic future to accomplish that.

Phidippus said...

Doing a 10-day vipassana retreat is one of those things that I'd like to do some day, but probably won't, because of responsibilities that I have.

Same thing with doing a couple of hours in the sensory deprivation tank. Feynmann did that once. He found it interesting.

The idea of vipassana (as I understand it) is practicing silence and being quiet to help the mind see more clearly what is there. The best I can manage is to do that a few hours at a time, when I'm out with the camera. It works.

Matt said...

Dude's worth $90 mil. He can substitute dollars for TP if he runs out.

He'll be fine.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Yesterday, while social distancing, I watched part 1 of "The Stand" on youtube. There might have been some bourbon drinking involved.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARCdN-Z2tIQ

TheDopeFromHope said...

Where did Leto crap in the desert? Did he wipe himself? Where did he do for food?

Did he "leave no trace"? Did he pack out everything he packed in, including his human waste?

We need answers!

TheDopeFromHope said...

Where did Leto crap in the desert? Did he wipe himself? What did he eat and drink?

Did he "leave no trace"? Did he pack out everything he packed in, including his human waste?

We need answers!

Scott M said...

It's a good idea not to watch the continual flow of news reports, many of which are designed to make you feel bad, to increase the difficulty of doing what you need to do.

This x1000. If you've ever given up sugar for a while, then had a candy bar or some other sweet, you know how quickly your brain can adjust to something and then how it processes returning to a previous "normal". My wife and I cut the cable a couple of years ago and haven't really regretted it. While my folks still consume a steady diet of 24-hour news channels, we do not--barely watching the local news on TV. Our news comes from various online outlets and it works.

Due to the current crisis, I figured I'd go ahead and spring for the extra $40 to get live TV added to my Hulu account. This gives me access to the live broadcasts for all the major news outlets, so, exercising old muscles, I sank right back in.

Wow...as much as that first taste of sugar after a long sugar-drought can hit hard, I was consciously aware that my mood was changing, getting more anxious, more dreadful, more...bad...overall. Turned it off and haven't gone back.

Scott M said...

Yesterday, while social distancing, I watched part 1 of "The Stand" on youtube.

We were watching trailers on Netflix and started on "Pandemic" with an all-star cast. Didn't make through twenty seconds before we laughed and turned it off. Then we flipped around and settled on It: Chapter Two. Turned that off after about five minutes. Afterward it was all Always Sunny, Archer, and old episodes of 30 Rock and Cheers.

traditionalguy said...

THIS IS SPARTA !

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

">>"Walked out yesterday into a very different world. One that's been changed forever."<<

Well, Jared sure didn't waste any time spreading silly hysteria, did he."

Exactly. 12 days with no hype actually lowered his immunity to hysteria. Interesting.

Fernandistein said...

Sending positive energy to all.

Thereby confusing the fine folks at Arecibo, who thought it was a sign of terrestrial intelligence.

Fernandistein said...

Turned that off after about five minutes.

We withstood "Hud" (1963) for about 10 minutes - "Why is everyone being so nice to that asshole?"

Come to think of it, it had the beginnings of a possible pandemic, apparently averted when they executed the infected and buried them in a mass grave.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

I thought The Stand was pretty good. Which is surprising since King wrote the "teleplay" as they pretentiously call the script in the credits. He is a good novelist, but does not understand movie making. Maybe the fact that it was several hours long helped. It was created back in the day when a Stephen King mini-series was a big deal. Back before streaming services and cable was still pretty new and didn't have nearly as many channels.

pacwest said...

If one is in a susceptible age group (I'm 75) then one is obligated to protect himself through self isolation but it does not require the governments to destroy the economy or my grand children's education or economic future to accomplish that.

I second this polite way of putting it 100%. I'm also astounded by the commentariat on this blog who were such a short time ago saying government is the problem not the answer who are now saying we should adhere to government policy.

Scott M said...

I thought The Stand was pretty good.

As a long-time fan of the novel, and not much of a King fan beyond that and Skeleton Crew, I thought the mini-series was a worthy attempt, though lacking in the way that most tv mini-series always seemed to back then.

Considering Dr Sleep next, but I'm so picky about what I sit down to watch these days because these days there's just so much crap.

Lurker21 said...

Sort of like a science fiction story where somebody is confined in some way and finally comes out to find civilization in ruins. Like The Walking Dead where the main character is in a coma when people are turning into zombies. Or like a prisoner held in an underground cell who comes up to the surface to find himself the sole survivor of a volcanic eruption. But I do get the feeling that Jared Leto is usually going around in the same kind of daze as in those stories, so how could he tell that the virus had made things any different?

Is the world forever changed by the coronavirus? People said that after 9-11. Was it? Given that the world is always changing what does it mean when we talk that way? The First World War probably did change the world forever - a world shattered, kings and empires swept away. The Second World War was a monumental world changing event, but the changes weren't as dramatic and took time to play out. Hiroshima changed "the world" in the sense of relations between nations, but didn't have such a dramatic influence on the way people far from the impact lived.

The Civil War did change America forever. So did the Revolution. Pearl Harbor? The Kennedy Assassination? Vietnam? Watergate?

Lurker21 said...

I don't care for Steven King. Dr. Sleep was a major disappointment. It was supposed to be the continuation of The Shining, but it's nothing like what Kubrick and Nicholson created. I have The Outsider on now. My heart sank a little when I realized that it wasn't going to be an excellent crime show but rather another supernatural thing. But that's just me - definitely not a fan.

Eleanor said...

When Thoreau wrote "Walden", the train from Boston to Concord was a short walk from his cabin. It still runs today, and if it passes when you're standing at the cabin site, you can hear it. He could walk into the town easily. He was hardly in the "wilderness" and was only alone when he wanted to be. You aren't really alone until there's no one else within your easy reach. There's more than an ounce of pretentiousness in people who claim to be isolated when they can walk out for a cup of coffee when the mood strikes. Thoreau was a con man. He got his relatives to pay his taxes for him, and he borrowed money to self-publish his books. He earned his money doing odd jobs. Kind of like Bernie Sanders.

sinz52 said...

jaybub said: "If one is in a susceptible age group (I'm 75) then one is obligated to protect himself through self isolation but it does not require the governments to destroy the economy or my grand children's education or economic future to accomplish that."

Neither the economy, nor children's education, nor their future, is being "destroyed." That's a vast exaggeration. This is a temporary downturn that will end as soon as a safe and effective vaccine is available.

After the 12-07-1941 Pearl Harbor attack, the stock market declined sharply. It didn't start to rise again until the U.S. finally turned the tide at the Battle of Midway--six months later. But then, optimism about the war resulted in a long-term bull market that lasted for years.

Financial planners routinely tell their clients to first set up a six-month emergency fund so that they'll have the money to ride through a disaster for at least six months, before they do anything else. Anyone who has not done that BEFORE investing or saving for any other purpose is doing it wrong.

No one who has set up such an emergency fund should be encountering any difficulties at this time.

Roughcoat said...

Instead of a 12-day silent meditation retreat, I'd like to do a 12-day war retreat, in an active war zone.

Dig it: "Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result."

catter said...

Is he auditioning for Zoolander 2? Two weeks ago we were well into crisis news coverage on this.
The linked photo is perfect.

Roughcoat said...

Steven King is not a good writer. Steven King is to good writing what Bullwinkle the Moose is to a real moose. If he were a car, he'd be a four-door Chevy sedan or a Rambler. His stories sometimes start out with an interesting premise but he always fails to deliver on them. He's very predictable as a result. You can tell where's going to end with his stories almost from the beginning, and where they go is ... nowhere. Why? Because none of the shit he writes about is real. It just ain't so, none of it.

I'll give him this: he has a formidable work ethic, an iron discipline to keep him writing. In the past, when he was especially prolific, this was probably due to the massive amounts of cocaine he consumed, but hey ... it worked, you can't argue with success.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Financial planners routinely tell their clients to first set up a six-month emergency fund so that they'll have the money to ride through a disaster for at least six months, before they do anything else.

Yeah, they do tell them that. But the fact of the matter is most people don't have financial planners or that kind of money saved up. I do, so my wife and I are fine if I go on the job market or some disaster hits. But, most people just don't have that much cash on hand. And telling them that they should have it and they are jerks and failures for not saving it when they could (which may not have been possible anyway) is not going to help.

Daniel Jackson said...

"I have the great benefit of a companion here with me, someone to talk with in a comfortable and supportive way, to be calm with, to help and to be helped by."

This may be the most wonderful lesson, and blessing, of our lives in the Time of Plague. Free of externalities and the pursuit of vanities, we fall back on ourselves and those we love: companionship. The French say the origin of the word is from the one we share our daily bread.

Of all the blog posts, this phrase I love the most.

God be with you both

Passover falls within the thirty days. A wonderful reminder that this plague will pass over us.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Dr. Sleep was a major disappointment. It was supposed to be the continuation of The Shining, but it's nothing like what Kubrick and Nicholson created.

King doesn't like Kubrick's "The Shining." Which is why I think King just doesn't have good taste when it comes to movies.

Here are some clips from "Steven Kings The Shining."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_zrjl8dgXI

LYNNDH said...

In the good old days of 1968 when I was in Boot Camp and there was no news, that was a quarantine. Did not know of anything for several weeks.

Smilin' Jack said...

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand...whether we should live like baboons or like men, is a little uncertain....

Sounds like Hank is recommending the baboon lifestyle.

Gabriel said...

Thoreau was about a mile from town, he visited his friends in Concord daily and his mother did his laundry.

It might be good advice but not sure how well he was following it, a bit like French aristocrats playing at being shepherds.

Stoutcat said...

"Wow. 12 days ago I began a silent meditation in the desert. We were totally isolated. No phone, no communication etc. We had no idea what was happening outside the facility."

I'll take Things That Never Happened for $1000, Alex.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

His stories sometimes start out with an interesting premise but he always fails to deliver on them.

I read his book "On Writing" and he openly states that he doesn't plot his stories in advance, and it shows because the endings are almost entirely crap. Its like he gets to a certain length and decides his publisher won't put it out if its any longer, and ends the story however he can. I've read The Shining, IT, The Stand, The Gunslinger series, and some other book whose name escapes me now. Oh, and part of The Dome because I was in a airport and needed something to read. The endings are always crap. I haven't talked to anyone who has read his novels, including fans, who doesn't agree that his books fall apart at the end.

jaydub said...

Sinz52: "Neither the economy, nor children's education, nor their future, is being "destroyed." That's a vast exaggeration. This is a temporary downturn that will end as soon as a safe and effective vaccine is available."

You seem to be talking about the stock market, which is not the economy. Personally, I am not worried about the stock market because I don't depend on the stock market for income and my cash and near cash assets are as extensive as my stock and real estate holdings. I'm talking about the couple that last December put the majority of their savings into a small business that depends on foot traffic to survive, so now won't. I'm talking about the real estate agent who is trying to sell a couple of my properties but is getting zero eyeballs and drawing zero interest and will, thus, get zero commission. I'm talking about the single mother that was working a waitress job and making ends meet until the restaurant closed and she couldn't pay the rent. I'm talking about the engineer who is graduating this June when no one is hiring because many companies don't even have the customer demand to bring back the workers they laid off. Ours is a service economy that depends on customers to service, and there might not be enough after this lock down ends because, at the end of the day, the middle class and working poor may not have even have jobs, let alone the money to spend on anything but essentials. These folks don't give a crap about the stock market or investment bucket theory and don't have a large emergency fund. The economy will likely turn on whether enough small businesses and marginal enterprises can survive long enough to keep paying their workers' salaries so as to keep the discretionary spending at a reasonable level, not to mention whether the workers in general are confident enough to spend on non essentials.

Your analogy regarding WWII is bogus because the world in the mid to late 40's was nothing like it is today. During, and particularly after WWII, the US was the manufacturing Goliath of the world because almost every other country's manufacturing infrastructure had been obliterated along with much of the male work force. There just wasn't another game in town but the US and the US was working at full capacity. Plus,the service sector was miniscule. This pandemic isn't going to destroy the world infrastructure as was done in WWII; it's going to eliminate much of the customer base for the service sector because income, savings and prospects will dictate a belt tightening for many people in many countries. If this economic disruption goes into mid to late summer or until a vaccine is developed in nine months or so, most economists believe we're in for a major world recession. That may not be a disaster for you or me, but it will for a lot of people.

Scott M said...

His stories sometimes start out with an interesting premise but he always fails to deliver on them.

That's mostly true, although I would hold out 11-22-63 as an exception. Excellent book, excellently written, and, unlike most King, excellent pacing. The ending is pretty good to, which is unlike King, but it's unlike him because he didn't write it, his son did.

Rosalyn C. said...

Nothing would be new for me, or so I thought. But my town/county just issued a shelter in place order and my dentist office just called to cancel an appointment. The public library automatically renewed my book and is shutting. Many activities cancelled. Some locals are getting hysterical or resentful for the inconvenience. I notice that Amazon and Whole Foods are giving automatic $2/hr raises for their employees until April. So it will be interesting. Hard not to wonder if/when everything will be shut down.

Rockport Conservative said...

Jaydub says exactly what I think. I'm 83, I'm used to staying in. My heart is hurting for the worldwide recession that will probably be created from this fear of a virus. I have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I would like to see them live in a comfortable world.
I hope to be wrong on this.

walter said...

Hollyweird is gonna have difficulty ginning up concern over dairy cows...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Startled after a long-term meditation in the desert?

As my friend likes to say: “These are First World problems.”

OSU '92 said...

jaydub well said.

I live in Oregon and they just announced no school until at least April 28th. My daughter is a Senior. Likely no softball season for her and she wont' be playing in college, probably no prom, maybe no graduation ceremony. I get that this is not a business being crushed, or a parent, brother, or sister dying but these are things she will never get back. Althouse its not just a nice time to have downtime and read books, its taking away some many personally important things (I understand its all relative) that are our very way of life.

I am sure I will get crushed for this comment, but in this case its not a hiatus/[postponement for self care and then back at it in a few months, or even a "you always have next year" situation. Hurtful in so many ways, both big and small.

Ann Althouse said...

“ Thoreau was about a mile from town, he visited his friends in Concord daily and his mother did his laundry.”

What does that have to do with the material in this post?

I am living in meditative simplicity and I have neighbors on all sides and a washing machine.

Ann Althouse said...

“ Hurtful in so many ways, both big and small.”

Yes, reality is.

I am recommending looking for the good, including contemplating the aspects of your normal life that may not be good.

I said nothing about how bad it is to give up the things that you do love. But I think dwelling on these losses will not improve the situation.

0_0 said...

"...changed forever."

STFU, you shallow Hollywood asshole making your ignorance a virtue.