Walking late last night, in a city that is even quieter than usual on a Sunday night. Little to no traffic, everything closed, even those bars that serve the servers on their night off. No huge green mess from pre-St Pats day Saturday on the sidewalks and mostly just quiet.
And a quiet morning. Some states are asking those 65 and old to stay home, schools are closed and kids are home. This quiet will be the way of the world for the foreseeable future. Perhaps it will change people, bring a little calm to the political storms, though I doubt that.
But if we are all to spend more time by ourselves, what can the net effect be? Social distancing, a term no one knew just days ago, physically tells us to avoid others. Will people seek other ways to communicate? Will all these neighbors do a little daily contemplation of their lives? The people I know seem muted, as though our shared situation requires respect, not excitement or panic.
Buddhists have three refuges we go to when beginning a meditation. We take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. An awakened teacher, truth, and our community. It is not religious, Buddhism is a nontheistic belief system, with no higher power pulling the strings, just our internal resources, which all beings share. Accessing them requires internal quiet. Perhaps in this quieter world, where isolation is recommended during this crisis, a little inward look is not a bad thing.
I’ve written about how I meditate. It’s simple, but it is work because our busy minds don’t like being ignored! But sometimes the thoughts that distract send some ideas my way so I’ve learned to watch them, note anything interesting, and move on. Hopefully this silent world and our thoughts on mortality and life set a good stage for a little inward journey.