This time of quarantine has led me to regularly committing some of the seven deadly sins, among them sloth and gluttony. Sloth in the form of basically never working out; my new idea of exercise is going to the field by my former high school, juggling a soccer ball 50 times, and calling it an afternoon. Gluttony comes in the form of buying a half gallon of yogurt and then demolishing it via repeated, semi-blacked out trips to the kitchen. But the yogurt is grass-fed.
In many ways I like the lockdown for the simplicity it brings. My days consist of work, of long walks, of watching Jeopardy! with my parents at 7:30pm, of thinking about what I’ll do when the lockdown is over, and the very occasional visit with a friend. The other day my best friend and went on a little tour of the Olympic Peninsula, albeit in separate cars for the driving portions, and (usually) six feet apart for the portions on foot. We spent a substantial chunk of time doing one of my favorite activities: looking out at the ocean waiting for waves. The ocean is one of those things you can look at for a long time and not get bored. On the contrary, your spirit seems to grow stronger the longer you look at it, as if the ocean itself were occupying the depths of your soul. Things like YouTube, on the other hand, have just the opposite effect. Thirty minutes of unstructured time on YouTube are 30 minutes you’ll never get back, 30 minutes in which your soul becomes more impoverished, 30 minutes that would be much better spent just staring at a wall. In fact, if you stared at a wall for 30 minutes I think you might learn more about yourself than by doing just about any other activity. It’s essentially meditation, after all.
Which reminds me of the time I went to a free transcendental meditation introductory class in Vancouver one time. The girl leading the class was drop-dead gorgeous. Her name was something like Meike and she was either from the Netherlands (OK actually I’m positive she was from the Netherlands) of something like half-Chinese half-Dutch descent and thus spoke Dutch, English, Mandarin, and probably something else tantalizing like Zulu, and I was hopelessly besotted in her presence, but also mystified by the fact that she appeared to believe in such garbage. In “official” transcendental meditation centers, which are peppered all over the world, you pay something ridiculous like $1000 to have a few hours with an expert who will give you your mantra, which you will then ostensibly use for the rest of your life to enter a meditative state and conquer the world (or at least yourself). One girl in my class said, “Why does it cost so much?” at which Meike MIGHT have blushed. But I’m pretty sure she didn’t. I’m pretty sure if there’s one question people slinging TM are prepared for, it’s that. Because it’s the only question anyone wants to ask when they’re faced with the prospect of paying a thousand dollars for a syllable.
Lockdown would be the perfect time to meditate. I am not meditating at all. Instead I’m playing video games, and drinking caffeinated beverages, and periodically going into my parents’ garage to hang from a 2×6 screwed into the wall. So far I’m up to just over 20 seconds. I read an article the other day in the NY Times that old people actually prefer the lockdown to normal life. And I can totally see where they’re coming from. I wouldn’t like lockdown forever, but a longstanding dream of mine has been to be marooned on a deserted island. And this is sort of like that. Marooned in a house with my parents and Alex Trebek and his insistence on pronouncing French phrases with the thickest accent possible. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: You don’t have to hate lockdown. You can, but there’s also the option of not being that bummed about it. Or even liking it. Or even loving it. And for now, I’m at least going to try to choose love.