10 Great Things About Lockdown
The virus that slowed the flow of time also brought back the richness of solitude, perspicacity, and Marvin Gaye
“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn that anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you." —David Whyte
LONGER HAIR (AND BEARDS) ON MEN— Driving back from the pool today I passed a guy that I see occasionally while he’s out walking near my house. And apparently over the past year, he’d grown a Rip Van Winkle beard and long beautiful locks. I nearly crashed catching a second look.
THE PRODUCTION OF THINGS— My clients shared a lot of stories about making significant progress with their various creative projects. This means there is going to be a wellspring of new books, music, gardens, games, fashions, plays, poems, furniture, gadgets, photographs, macrame, home improvements, mathematical formulas, and scientific discoveries arriving in the months ahead. This is in keeping with the thrust of the recent Jupiter Saturn conjunction in Aquarius. AKA Prometheus unbound.
THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF FACEBOOK— I’ve read a lot about how FB continued to prosper through COVID, but our protracted interaction with the platform confirmed—through sheer repetition—how the social network’s algorithms amplify the angriest content for mercenary gains; the kind of programming that’s dangerous to the commonwealth. Rather than rehash the same contentions—blah blah—do some new thinking about the old platform and order up Jeffery Lanier’s latest book 10 Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, and listen to his interview with Kara Swisher where he says:
“If you can quit social media, but don’t, then you’re part of the problem…You’re not doing anything to free those who are more trapped. You’re only enslaving them more by entrenching the system.”
A NEWFOUND APPRECIATION OF THE USPS— When I see my beleaguered postman drive up to my house and he can barely see out of his windshield because five thousand of those white plastic Amazon package-envelopes are blocking his view, my heart goes out to him. But what a beautiful beard he’s got going on now!
ACCEPTING ONE’S MORTALITY— I mean moment-by-moment awareness of the ‘maturing’ process. For having so little wear and tear throughout 2020, I was amazed at how much I’d aged. And how much I’d noticed. Sure, I would probably have aged the same should life have been ‘normal’ in 2020—but with so many Groundhog Day-like moments stacked into each other, my visits to the mirror revealed disturbing new changes (and failures). As a palliative I immediately ordered Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck. And that was worth all of my slo-mo falling-apart-ness. Can you dig it? As she wrote:
If I said something to you on the subject—something like "I absolutely cannot stand my neck" you'd undoubtedly respond by saying something nice, like "I don't know what you're talking about." You'd be lying, of course, but I forgive you. I tell lies like that all the time—mostly to friends who tell me they're upset because they have little pouches under their eyes, or jowls, or wrinkles, or flab around the middle, and do I think they should have an eye job, or a face-lift, or Botox, or liposuction. My experience is that "I don't know what you're talking about" is code for "I see what you mean, but if you think you're going to trap me into engaging on this subject, you're crazy." It's dangerous to engage on such subjects, and we all know it.
DISCOVERING THE FX SERIES THE AMERICANS— I avoided the series when it debuted back in 2013. I’m not sure why. I guess the notion of gorgeous Russian spies living out their Donna Reed-like facade in a sleepy 1980s Virginia suburb was so outrageous I assumed the show would be awful. Wrong. But now with a dearth of stuff to stream, I have six seasons of the series (and its endless parade of wigs) to relish. The show is maniacally twisted. Expertly acted. And upends all culturally sanctioned morals to the point of creating a constantly flashing ‘red alert' mind-fuck in your head. WARNING: Beware binge blowouts, the kind where friends or family have to make 911-like ‘wellness checks’ at your residence. The show now occupies the ‘crown jewel tier’ in the Television Hall of Fame.
MOTHERS— Valuing them and protecting them, should they still be alive. Thinking about and missing them, even more, should they be gone. COVID made everything about the fragility of life feel radioactive and too obvious. Being lucky to be alive during a global pandemic, I felt gratitude for my mom who had to go through the big mess of birthing and raising me one hundred years ago. I’m not sure how all of this is connected—but somehow it is.
JOE BIDEN— because he is not Donald Trump. I know Joe has ‘issues’ and some fucked-up policies. But I don’t care. He’s fine right now. I’ll take him. And without COVID he wouldn’t have happened.
REDISCOVERING AND RE-APPRECIATING MARVIN GAYE’S album What’s Going On. But in a ‘deep listening’ sort of way. And finally, I’m vindicated. After touting Gaye’s album for the past 30 years as my favorite album of all time, Rolling Stone finally came around last year and did the same with their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
YOU—As per number 2 above, I spent a good part of last year researching and compiling some of my meatiest writing. With that (and the response I received from regular readers) I started to rethink my online relationship with each of you. As fate (or whatever) would have it, I discovered Substack. This new format allows me to connect in a direct, relaxed way with you—free from the mind-numbing shrill of social media. And that’s great. To everyone who subscribed to WOODRUFF, thank you.
Now, let’s all get through the rest of 2021 inoculated and unscathed.
(And please share what’s been great about lockdown for you, below).