Whenever I consider complaining about being in my house for the past ten weeks, I remember that the Dalai Lama was forced into exile in India in 1959 from his home in Tibet, and Desmond Tutu was in prison in South Africa for twenty-seven years. If they can write a book about joy, anybody can be happy. I'm reading their Book of Joy today and am somewhat surprised by the Dalai Llama's contention that "the purpose of life is to find happiness." This is an enlightening concept given the misery in the world, and the cruelty and violence I'm seeing on TV this very moment in Minnesota. It is a book about friendship and love between two men who have suffered greatly in life but have come to the realization that three factors have the greatest influence on increasing happiness: our ability to reframe our situation more positively, our ability to experience gratitude, and the choice to be kind and generous. I love this from the book: "Wherever you have friends that's your country, and whenever you receive love, that's your home."
One day I was teaching a class of thirty-seven on the subject of childhood identity. The next I was home emailing my students to say they would never see me again, except by Zoom or Facetime. The coronavirus had come to town, in this case, Philadelphia. This brings home the influence of randomness in our lives, the subject of a book I'm reading by Leonard Mlodinow. The title comes from a mathematical term describing random motion, such as the paths molecules follow as they fly through the air colliding with other molecules. This is similar to how virus molecules spread from person to person as we talk and cough while strolling around Whole Foods if we unknowingly have the virus and don't wear a mask.