Say Yes

This article is a timely reminder of something we instinctively know is true: negativity is physically and emotionally bad for you. Proven over and over again: “Positive words and thoughts propel the motivational centers of the brain into action and help us build resilience when we are faced with problems.” Yes is the best!

Charles Eisenstein

I first learned of Charles Eisenstein this week when I read his essay The Coronation. Since then, I have been doing a deep dive into his recent work. He is a thoughtful and articulate speaker, and I was particularly taken with his comments in a Rebel Wisdom interview on April 11, 2020 titled An Epidemic of Control. I made some notes on this interview – each one is something to think about – and I share them below.

Change happens through crisis – the breakdown of normal gives us the opportunity to see what we had been unconsciously choosing before. “To interrupt a habit is to make it visible; it is to turn it from a compulsion to a choice.”

Our reactions to coronavirus are all intensifications of trends that were well under way before coronavirus, including:
– the migration of social interactions online
– online commerce
– a regime of hygiene and fear of germs
– the movement of life to indoors (especially for kids)
– restriction of political freedom and censorship of information
– destruction of small businesses
– increasing medicalization of life

Is this how we want to live? Or would now be a good time to opt out of the “regime of control” that sets to control every variable in an effort to minimize risk (and forestall death)?

Charles uses the metaphor of intervention for an addict, to illustrate how we are addicted to control (controlling our pain, emotion, other people) through eating, pill-taking, war-making, and ultimately, totalitarianism. When it doesn’t work, we do more of it, and pay a greater and greater price (half of all Americans have some serious psychological disturbance). Coronavirus is our intervention, the interruption of the whole addictive system. For just a moment, we can see clearly just how estranged we are from the lives we could be living.

Instead, we aren’t healthy, we don’t feel secure, our lifespan is declining, and we don’t trust anyone or any information. Corona virus is not going to save us, it is just going to make our choice starkly apparent.

It’s the governing stories of our civilization that prepare us to go along with the psychopaths in power – primarily the stories of separation and control. What is the story we want to tell ourselves? What are the values we want to actually live?

And importantly, are we ready for the death of the old system? Are we ready to let go of comfort and familiarity? Am I willing to do things differently? (Am I ready to let go of ordering supplements?)

This is the time for righteous anger – the authorities have redirected our anger onto false targets and false solutions over and over. We could be living in a beautiful abundant world right now. There is enough for everyone. Instead we are living in a society of intensifying artificial scarcity.

Targeting our righteous anger won’t fix the problem; scapegoating is a diversion. People who look like the perpetrators are just functionaries, playing a necessary role. Compassion and forgiveness are demanded, and they are not the opposite of anger.

“You aren’t going to outgun the military-industrial complex. You have to rely on a change of heart.”

We aren’t going to survive life. A brush with death can resurrect the meaningful questions … why am I here?

Arundhati Roy article in the FT

The entire article is here.

“Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to “normality,” trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality.

“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.

“We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

Arundhati Roy

Time to Be Real

On 60 Minutes Sunday night there was a short clip of Wynton Marsalis talking about his dad Ellis who died last week from the coronavirus. In his comments, Wynton said that Ellis would have asked: “Let’s see if we are who we said we were before we had to deal with this.” In regular times it is “easy to be full of arrogance and commentary; now we have to be for real in our morality, our concepts, our integrity.”

Take Aways – Daniel Levitin, Successful Aging

This post summarizes the main take away points for me from a talk given by David Levitin, author of Successful Aging, given at the Commonwealth Club on February 5, 2020 (Link). Also sponsored by the Buck Institute on Aging in Novato, CA whose mission is to live better, longer.

  1. A key to successful aging is to identify those things that are important to you (at any age) and then make time for them.
  2. Curiosity is a big predictor of life satisfaction at any age. Curiosity is a personality trait. Your genetics give you a propensity for certain personality traits but you can change these at any age through religion, meditation, athletics, disease, etc. (See the example of Julia “Hurricane” Hawkins)
  3. Dopamine is part of the brains’ reward circuitry that rewards you for exploring your environment, and may fuel curiosity. You begin to lose your dopamine production every decade after 50. [This explains my lack of motivation at times, as Parkinson’s is a dopamine production problem.]
  4. We didn’t evolve to be 80 years old. Natural selection has not caught up with our living longer, so we don’t know what our limits are or what we can become. 
  5. There are a lot of myths about aging that aren’t true. Many of these myths are the stories we tell ourselves. For example, when you’re 20 and you misplace your keys you tell yourself you have too many things on your plate. When you’re 80, you tell yourself that you’re losing your mind.
  6. The most important aging factor is this: moving around, outside.
  7. It’s important not to allow your insulin levels to spike too often. Remember also that eating should be fun. Dr. Levitin eats a spoonful of ice cream every week, but usually not more than one because of the law of diminishing returns.

Covid-19: Dr David Price on Protecting Your Family

This is an informative video that you may not have seen, and that gave me a sense of how to take fight back against the coronavirus. I made this written summary at the request of some of my family and thought it might be helpful to you.

The video is here, and is titled: Covid_19_Protecting_Your_Family_Dr_Dave_Price_3_22_2020

Dr Price is at a 1,200 bed hospital in NYC. They triage at several stages, Dr Price decides who gets ventilators and who comes off them. In a unique position to comment on this situation.

Why make this video?

Physicians are angry at people not taking this seriously but also they also want to empower people to learn about the facts of this disease. Three months into fight against it, his hospital is almost exclusively Covid 19, and they know alot and are learning every day. Don’t be scared – you can protect your family.

What is Covid-19?

Covid-19 is a virus, from common cold family, but new to humans. Looks like fever, cough, sore throat. Affects lungs mostly. 80% of people who get this will just “not feel good” with mild cough, headache. Most people in this group start to feel better after 5 to 7 to 14 days or so.

How to protect your family?

We get this disease through sustained contact with either a) someone who has disease (people with fever, aches), or b) someone who is about to become sick. Almost exclusively transmitted from hands to face (eyes, nose, mouth). May also be transmitted in air but that likely requires 30 minutes sustained contact with sick person. Know this: Covid-19 is in your community right now. Use these four rules to protect yourself:

  • Become a fanatic about your hands – know where your hands are and keep them clean at all times. Use Purell. It is okay to touch things, just Purell it immediately.
  • Work on psychological connections between hands and face. Stop touching your face. Be aware. Start wearing masks (or a bandanna) when you leave the house – it will help you to stop touching your face.
  • You do not need a medical mask. (He only wears a N95 if he is in room with sick patients)
  • Distance yourself when in public – six feet rule is good.

Don’t be scared of outside world. Don’t be scared of people. Use these facts to stay healthy.

Socially you must shrink your social circle. Find your little group and set firm boundaries. No others traipsing in and out. Okay to go to store using four rules above.

What do you do if you get this disease?

Most transmission throughout world is from one family member to another. If you develop fever but are otherwise fine, just isolate yourself. Stay in your room, use separate bathroom if possible. Inside the house the sick person wears the mask outside the bedroom. Wash hands after anything touched. Just minimize the sustained contact. Let them take their own temperature. Seven days in, most people will start to feel better.

If you think you have a cold, take the Covid-19 precautions, then if you feel better in two days, you will know you had a cold.

However – If you have vulnerable person in your home, be ultra cautious. The elderly and those in chemo.

When to go to hospital?

If you feel short of breath go to the hospital. Not just because you have a fever or aches. Not because you think you have Covid-19. Dr Price’s hospital sends most people home to finish course of disease. Of all the people who get COVID-19 about 10% need to go to the hospital because they have shortness of breath. Of that 10% perhaps two or 3% of those need to go on a ventilator. Majority come off ventilator in 7 to 9 days.

Answers to Questions:

  • Kids under 14 are not getting critically ill. Not clear if they are transmitting it.
  • Should I get tested? Depends on availability of tests in your area.
  • Okay to go outside. Don’t get sloppy. Follow the rules.
  • Use caution on things others have delivered to you. Don’t have to wash packages, etc if you follow the rules.
  • How long to wait to contact your hospital or doctor if you get sick? Call, don’t go in, doctors using telemedicine. Only go to hospital if you are having trouble breathing.
  • This disease affects everyone who is older than 15. NOT restricted to older adults or those with co-morbidities. Follow the rules.
  • They are not using ibuprofen in hospital anymore. No Advil. Tylenol only.
  • Social distancing will likely be continued, but don’t give into fear. You know the rules.

How to Get Ready to Retire?

Get healthy.

This article is in the context of Covid-19 crisis, but its point – that the vast majority of Americans are not healthy – is a call to action for each of us individually. “Only 12 percent of Americans over age 20 are considered metabolically healthy — that is, with optimal measures for waist circumference, blood sugar, blood pressure and lipids, and not taking drugs to control these risk factors.” Even without Covid-19 our healthcare system was about to be overwhelmed.

The single most important thing to do for yourself is to get and stay healthy. Also, probably the single most difficult thing to accomplish.

Life After Coronavirus

Yuval Noah Harari wrote a very interesting article in the Financial Times recently about how the choices we are forced to make quickly today – to save lives, to expedite medical supplies – will have lasting impact on how we live post-crisis. Does our future hold totalitarian surveillance or citizen empowerment? Nationalist isolation or global solidarity?

Contrast this with the kind of thoughtful decisions we have been making, or should have been making, all along. Like the ones described by Ozzie Zehner in his book Green Illusions. Do we have the wherewithal to lower our energy demands significantly, immediately, and to live more lightly on the earth in multiple contexts? How do we set ourselves up to make our species successful?

One thing for sure. There’s no going back to “normal.” We are forever changed.