Keeping Your Humanity while Keeping Your Distance

Infants who do not receive enough touch can die due to a condition known as “failure to thrive.” Skin-to-skin contact is important for both infants and mothers. It reduces stress and increases emotional connection according to “Scientific American.” As we grow up, we don’t stop needing that contact; we can just get by with less, even if it means going without it for years.

Banishment and Solitary Confinement

In the Middle Ages, banishment was a form of punishment akin to death. The person who was banished at that time lost all of his or her support network. The banished became a person non grata in his or her own community and had to find another place to live. Often, the new person would not be accepted in a different society. They could die from exposure to the elements if they didn’t find a place to live, hunger if they couldn’t find food, or dysentery and other disease if they found the wrong food or water source. A person who was taken out of society was at a great risk of physical death after experiencing identity death.

Someone who is in jail can be subjected to a worse punishment. Solitary confinement is used to separate prisoners who misbehave for the safety of the other inmates. Sitting all day alone gives these prisoners an opportunity to think about what they’ve done. On a much lesser scale, children face this type of punishment when they are sent to their rooms or put in the corner. The punishment keeps them from interacting and touching others.

Isolation in Fiction

Several fiction stories have explored long-term isolation and its effects. The Twilight Zone’s first episode was about a man who couldn’t find anyone in the town he walked to. “Where Is Everybody?” was the series start that explore isolation on different levels. “The Lonely,” another Twilight Zone episode, features a convict on asteroid. His only contact comes from the supply ship that arrives every six months. A more modern take on isolation is Tom Hank’s “Cast Away” (affiliate link) wherein Hank’s character befriends a volleyball. In literature, “Robinson Crusoe” (affiliate link) deals with a shipwreck and what happens to the man involved. People aren’t meant to live alone, even those who profess to not like people – maybe them the most. Think of Scrooge (affiliate link) who isolated himself for the love of money until he was visited by ghosts.

Cultural Human Touch

In many cultures, human touch is an important part of interacting. Handshakes, cheek-kissing, a pack on the mouth, and holding hands are all ways to establish a familial or platonic connection depending on where you are and what the cultural norm is. Not being able to connect with people in this very personal way can keep others off their game and lead to depression.

Other Ways to Connect

Fortunately, there are other ways you can connect while staying at least six feet or farther apart. The current self-isolation and quarantine doesn’t mean you have to avoid human contact altogether – just physical contact. With the Internet available, you can still connect to your friends and family. Facetime, Facebook chat, and Skype are all ways to connect to the people you know and love. You even get video!

You can also use your phone to call them. Or if you want less interactivity, you could try YouTube or Facebook live. You don’t have to be alone with your thoughts. You just shouldn’t be in the same place as someone else. Virtual conversations can cover that. Even better, if you’re one of the people who is just supposed to stay home, you have the time to make those important connections again.

How to Survive

Astronaut Chris Hadfield has four steps to thriving in self-isolation. The first step is to understand the risks. Don’t let fear rule you. Find the facts and learn your risk factor. The next steps are knowing your mission and obligations. Then you can take action and do something about it.

One Person Doing It Right

Paul Draper, a public speaker, magician, mentalist, and anthropologist was at Disneyland waiting to do a show when he heard the park was closing and he was out of a job. As a public speaker, he’s lost several gigs, and instead of focusing on what happened to him, he focused on what he could do to make his situation better. He started a community on Patreon where he shares his stories and secrets. The biggest secret is that he isn’t just helping himself. He’s helping others through his thoughtful posts and comments. He is still accomplishing his goals, he’s just harnessing the Internet to do it.

The Next Steps

In essence, touch helps us feel real. We need someone else to validate who we are and who we think we are. We need to know we are loved. Words are inadequate to the job, especially in cultures where saying “I love you” is taboo or restricted enough to be taboo. However, you don’t have to let self-isolation take your humanity. Sure, you may feel like touch is the exact thing you need to feel real, but being human is so much more.

Storytelling for Your Soul

One good way to connect is through storytelling. People have been telling stories long before they could write. Fairy tales, fables, and many religions are made up from oral stories passed from generation to generation until they could be written down. Storytelling is your birthright as a human being and now, you have more options to tell your story than ever before.

Write a novel.  Write a short story. Tell the story on video and then release it on YouTube, Facebook, or your favorite social media. Some people are using MadLibs to pass the time. Start your own. There are even communities of writers that have writing prompts. If you’ve always wanted to be a writer, the only qualification is you need to write.

Storytelling isn’t just about telling your story. It’s also about listening to the stories of others. It’s the give and take. The act of sharing between two people that makes storytelling so powerful. You don’t have to search far for stories. There are plenty of movies and books with fandoms that you can connect to. However, talking to the older members of your family and asking them for their history will increase your appreciation of them and create memories that will last a lifetime. Now is the time to call grandma and grandpa and ask them how they are doing, and if they’re up for it, what they remember best about their lives.

Play Some Music

You’ve seen the videos of Italians connecting to each other through music from their balconies. Police officers in Mallorca are performing concerts while enforcing the lock down in Spain. Celebrities came together while remaining apart to perform “Imagine.” The Doobie Brothers knew what they were singing about when they said “Listen to the Music.”

But you don’t have to just listen. You can perform, too. Maybe you don’t play an instrument, but if you have one at home, you can learn. All you really need is your voice. Check out Cameron Diaz (below) singing in a scene from “My Best Friend’s Wedding” or Tiffany Haddish in Netflix’s “Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker.” Neither one of them is on-key, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is giving yourself the voice and allowing your lungs, vocal cords, and mouth to work together to sing out your feelings – whatever they are.

Back to Normal

We can’t know when it will be safe to touch each other again. As long as people break the rules and continue to party, get together for church services, congregate in parks because “I do what I want” or whatever their excuses are for coming together, we will continue to face the consequences of our physical interactions. Those of us who are doing our part will face the continued consequences of those who are being irresponsible and exposing all of us to greater risk. But that’s okay because in the end, we will understand that our humanity comes from our compassion, our creativity, our storytelling, and our music. Create something new today, and the world will be better for it tomorrow.


Roly Poly Penguins Debut on Patreon

My wife has spent the last couple of weekends knitting. She works at a hospital and has been using knitting as a way to relieve stress. During that time, she made some Roly Poly Penguins! These penguins are so funny and soft. They are also great for those who enjoy experiencing tactile stimulation. They are just the right size for an adult hand or two child sized hands.

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Pirates, Bureaucracy, and Magic? Oh, My: The Pirate Union’s Story

When I was in college in the mid-1990s, I was lucky enough to find a roommate who had similar interests. When I was faced with the school’s illogical and uncaring bureaucracy, we decided to write a story: The Pirate Union. Now, I’m not sure that the bureaucracy was the reason for the story. It may have just been coincidental. I do know that my coauthor was smart enough to have suggested as a remedy, but there was no real cause and effect here. At least, I don’t think there was.

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Selfish Greed, False Sacrifice Lead to Covid-19 Cannibalism

If you’ve followed the events of the past few days, it might seem like Americans have been turned into nothing more than the way to run capitalism. Rather than science-based data, the push to get back to work is coming from on high because of the fear that the economy grinding to a halt will destroy the stock market. Several people have floated the idea that if some old people have to die to keep capitalism running for the young, then so be it. They would be happy to.

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Stay the F— Home: Activity #3 Video Games

Video games are a great time killer, and they improve hand-eye coordination. You’ll feel like your accomplishing something, be part of a story that is greater than you, and be able to score points. Even if all you do is point and click your way to a better-looking farm or across a raging battlefield, you’ll get to do it with no guilt, excuses, or rationalization. If you go retro, you can even visit Disneyland with the NES game! Stick to old school video games and see if you can get a perfect score on Pac-Man or challenge your friends to an online game of high scores.

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Which Lord of the Rings Actor is the Most Underrated and Greatest Actor of Our Generation?

(Editor’s Note: This article exploring topic of which is the most underrated and greatest Lord of the Rings actor contains affiliate links. Ordering items from affiliate links doesn’t add anything to the price you pay, and the fees we receive support our artistic and writing endeavors.)

John Rhys-Davies

With 269 acting credits (according to IMDb), Gimli the Dwarf is played by a star who has also been in the Indiana Jones series and on Television’s “Sliders” and in the animated series “Gargoyles.” His other credits include the voice of the Brine King in “Aquaman,” He has arguably been seen more than any other star as he reprises his role as Sallah in Disneyland’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye safety video. Rhys-Davies also voiced Treebeard in “The Two Towers.”

Hugo Weaving

With 96 acting credits, the actor who brought to life Elrond in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Hobbit also played multiple versions of Agent Smith in the Matrix series and was in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” He voiced Megatron in three Transformers films and Rex in the two Babe the Pig movies. He played Tick/Mitzi in the cult classic “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.”

Orlando Bloom

While the Legolas actor in both the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit movies gets his due as heartthrob, his acting prowess may have gone unnoticed. Starring in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Bloom certainly has his box office chops, even if most people credit Johnny Depp for the movie’s success. Bloom has 42 acting credits to his IMDb profile.

Andy Serkis

The Gollum actor for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit movies played in the new Planet of the Apes films, the new Star Wars films, Black Panther and Avengers: Age of Ultron. He has 103 credits to his name and has done remarkable work in motion capture situations.

Which Lord of the Rings actor do you think deserves more props than he or she gets for his or her acting career? Leave your favorite, most underrated actor in the comments below.

Read about our trip to Hobbiton in New Zealand. Check out photos from Hobbiton. Read about my favorite Lord of the Rings character.

The America I Love Doesn’t Discard You Because You Aren’t Economically Viable

So, he said my grandma (over 90) and my mom (a grandmother and retiring at the age of 67 in June) would be willing to sacrifice themselves, so that we, their children, grandchildren (and great grandchildren), can have the America that all America loves. My grandma and mother didn’t work all their lives so they could be thrown out by the politicians. They worked hard with an expectation that they would be able to retire and enjoy their golden years.

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Stay the F—K at Home (Go the F—k to Sleep parody)

The malls are closed; the stores are shuttered.
There’s no place for you to roam.
Disneyland is empty and quiet.
Please stay the fuck at home.

The movie theaters are dark.
Movie companies aren’t releasing any more.
You can watch all the movies on the Internet,
and stay the fuck indoors.

You need to get some sunlight, and the backyard’s just too small?
You can go on a little trip. Let me be your guide:
Around your fence and down the middle
Or stay the fuck inside.

You need to get some groceries?
Get it through your thick dome,
You’ve got enough food and toilet paper. Stop lying.
Don’t go outside; stay the fuck at home.

You need to get some exercise?
You never cared before.
Put on a yoga video,
And stay the fuck indoors.

You’re not scared of a virus?
There’s no need to run and hide?
If not for you, then for your family;
Stay the fuck inside.

You’re bored and lonely and tired?
Just follow the instructions of this poem.
Read books, use Facetime, take a nap,
But for real: stay the fuck at home.

You’ve been cooped up for 24 hours,
And you just can’t take it anymore?
You’ve played video games for three days straight
Jesus Christ, what the fuck? Stay indoors.

You decided to go out and hang with friends
So what if old people will have died?
Make the right choice for your grandparents now,
And stay the fuck inside.

There’s nothing new out there.
Everything’s shut from St. Petersburg to Nome.
Some wonderful places to drive to,
You know where you can fucking go? No, stay home.

This room is all you can remember.
You’ve never been out you swore.
That’s okay. You’ve got this.
Don’t give up and stay the fuck indoors.

The nation is counting on you.
In fact, this is worldwide.
Screw your courage to the sticking post,
And stay the fuck inside.

There’s no reason to leave the house.
In the future you can say with pride
Others went out to meet friends
But I stayed the fuck inside.

If you need more things to do while you’re at home, read, aerobicize, and movies.

Now, I just need to figure out how to get Samuel L. Jackson or Jennifer Garner to read this.

Thanks to Adam Mansbach, who wrote “Go the F—k to Sleep” (affiliate links). Hopefully, he’s coming up with a better version of this.

New Zealand: Waitomo Caves Where the Stars Are Glowworms

In the Waitomo Caves, there is no photography permitted, which makes the experience all the more sacred. New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves are home to thousands of glowworms that light up the ceiling.

How Glowworms Eat

While much of the tour is conducted in low light, there is a truly magnificent and terrifying view of what glowworms do to eat. The glowworm is the larva stage of an insect that lives only long enough to mate. It attaches itself to the ceiling of these caves where insects fly following the current of the air and river. If the insect flies too close to the ceiling of the cave. It gets caught and eaten by the glowworm. Many adults end up feeding the larva after they have mated.

The tour guides explain this and then turn on the lights to see what the glowworms look like. The bright flash blinds you for a second. When your eyes adjust, you see thousands of strands of saliva hanging a foot or more from the ceiling. These strands are excreted by the glowworms and used to trap their food. The lights go off, and you’re left with your thoughts, which may or may not include the ending of the original fly and what if you were that guy in this cave.

A Quiet Boat Ride

As you descend to the boats, the guides ask you to remain silent to allow everyone to enjoy the cave and its atmosphere. The lights above seem to waver in lines. They look like a 3D matte painting. It’s unreal, beautiful, and quiet. As an addition to our Hobbiton tour, Waitomo Cave was a perfect contrast to the manmade set. The entire experience highlighted New Zealand’s ingenuity, beauty, and natural wonders. If you can’t make it to New Zealand, You can listen to Johnny Mercer’s Glow Worm (affiliate link) tune!