The Introvert’s Guide to Isolation
By Willy Christie
LA’s favorite budtender compares lockdown to a grand mediation session.
Take a seat, light a J. 5 minute read.
Peace In Quiet
Day 50 of Quarantine:Sitting at my desk freshly spliffed and wearing a thrifted silk robe, I can’t help but think this whole Lockdown thing ain’t so bad. Being ‘fortunate’ enough to be laid-off just two days before Lockdown, I got a truly lucky head start on unemployment. Though I’m making significantly less than I was, the benefits cover my rent and bills. Oh well, back to not going out to restaurants and bars. Familiar territory. But this time, you’re all here with me. I would have tidied up a bit, but I think we can all agree this is quite unprecedented.
As an artist, I’ve learned to not just survive in uncertain situations, but to stay inspired and continue growing. I’m sure all of my fellow introverts, artists and bong rippers agree:
This is our domain.
Though I definitely see myself as a weed smoking shut-in, today I’d like to give the credit to the artist. Shortly after dropping out of college, I decided to pursue music full time. As you may know, the 2010 market wasn’t too hot for amateur jam-band/psychedelic fusion. I had to make THE CHOICE. I decided to bet on myself. I became the quintessential ‘Starving Artist.’ You work as little as possible and use the extra time to hone your craft. For those of you wondering, no, this lifestyle does not involve expendable income. Plenty of time, just enough money. Now I’m not saying I’m an expert at being alone, or being happy, or really anything for that matter. I’ve just been staying here for more than a few years and I figured I could show you how to use the shower and where the Tupperware is.
Is Solitude Bliss?
One of the beautiful things about humans is just how different we can be. Even something as innocuous as cannabis is going to have a group of people that get angry thinking about that sweet little plant. So I guess it goes without saying that not everyone is going to enjoy being stuck with themselves either. The only difference is cannabis isn’t necessarily part of the human condition. But loneliness is. We are born separate from everyone else, and we die separate from everyone else. We are isolated inside of our bodies for our entire life, whether we like it or not. So why not choose to enjoy it? Or at least try?
Time-Out, Time-Off, Or Time-To-Get-My-Shit-Together
We have been collectively praying for this moment for decades. A reset button. Perhaps this is the return to simpler times we’ve been pining for. Though I’m not sure if this lockdown is a welcome period of introspection, or a government sanctioned time-out, I think we can all collectively take this time to think about what we’ve done. (You naughty consumer, you.) And more importantly, what we can do.
I’m very aware that a lot of people are seriously struggling right now, but let’s not forget the context of this disaster. Collectively, we are all driving straight into a wall. Global warming, ocean pollution, deforestation, all of it. Full speed ahead. You get the picture. But through some wild disaster, the bus has completely stopped, and we’re now forced to sit and really think about exactly which direction we’re headed and why.
Right now it doesn’t matter what your job was, or if you hated it or loved it. The reality is our society has let us down. This crisis has put a magnifying glass on the cracks in the way our civilization operates.
We may not have the influence or resources to fix our society, but we can at least check up on ourselves, slow down and be in the now. Now is a perfect time to reflect and realign our spiritual, personal, and material goals.
Sitting here, unemployed, with no future job prospects on the horizon, in one of the most expensive cities in the world, it’s easy to feel desperate. But as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been here before. I spent 7 years in Kansas on and off of food stamps and unemployment, barely making it by. I was growing weed to help pay the bills and writing music with all the free time I had. All the while, my friends were graduating and getting real jobs. Radio Shack and Jimmy John’s were numbing my soul, so I made a choice. If I had to pay rent (which I did,) I would put myself in a situation to be happy earning it. I started working at music stores, smoke shops, and even a disc golf store. All things I liked. The pay was low, and I only worked enough to keep my lights on, but I had discovered that the more time I spent on music, the better I felt. My love for growing cannabis bloomed into a full blown gardening affair. The feeling of satisfaction and happiness I got from these individual efforts were infinitely more rewarding than any job I ever had.
In his commencement speech at the Maharishi University of Management, Jim Carrey talks about how his father would have made a great comedian, but he let his fear get in the way. Instead, he made the ‘conservative’ choice and set off to be an accountant. When Carrey was 12 his father was let go of that job, and they struggled to get by. “I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
What Do We Want?
Desire is a tricky thing. We may desire something one day, only to look back and breathe a sigh of relief that we kept our distance. But this sense of relief can be quite the slippery slope. How long until you’re looking back on your entire life, wondering ‘what if?’ only to realize that it’s too late. During these moments of pause, I sometimes find myself listening to the wonderful Alan Watts. Being one of the first people to bring Zen concepts to the Western world, I feel like he knows a thing or two about finding peace in quiet. In one of his more popular speeches, he asks of his students, “What would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your life?” He goes on to encourage them to not be afraid of not making any money on it, be it painting or horseback riding, or going outdoors. “…because, if you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing, which is stupid.”
I couldn’t agree more. Enjoying life makes me happy. Being happy is important to me.
Let us consider this period of isolation to be some sort of grand meditation session. Or at least a very elaborate metaphor for one. As we slowly get accustomed to our home space again, we might relax. Or try. While we’re at it, we might as well let go of our anxieties about the future too. There’s not too much we can do about it from here. It’s more than understandable to need several several days, if not weeks, or even months to stop our heads from spinning. We’ve been washing, rinsing and repeating this 9-5, 40 hour work week for God knows how long. But like muddy water in a pond, with enough time, the shit settles. As the constant stimulation of other people, crowds, lines, and traffic falls away, the waves start to calm down. Simply by doing nothing, we can achieve a type of peace. Literal clarity.
Out here in LA, even the dust in the sky has settled.