Former Taliban Hostage Puts Covid-19 and Home Quarantine in Perspective

I saw my neighbor outside picking up her newspaper this morning and asked how she was doing. “I am so over this,” she said.

I agreed, and added, “I’m done.”

Of course, we’re not done. Los Angeles residents have been quarantined since mid-March. Many of us thought that three weeks of “Safer at Home” and keeping “social distance” would be enough time to make it through the coronavirus incubation period and we would know who was sick and who was not.

But no, Mayor Garcetti announced that everyone had to wear masks in essential businesses starting on April 10, even though the rate of growth of Covid-19 had yet to reach the predicted exponential rates.

Thankfully, we’re behind the predicted death rates for California, and many of us are wondering just how much longer we can stand living in a house, nearly 24 hours a day, with the families we love.

Circling the News invited Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben and Father Liam Kidney to write pre-Easter pieces and both were wonderfully uplifting.

Then last week in the Wall Street Journal, my whining seemed to be way out of place after I read Jere van Dyk’s “A Hostage’s Guild to Isolation.”

In 2008, he was a Taliban hostage for 45 days in Pakistan. Here’s his advice:

“Be calm. Try not to be afraid. Set a regimen. Get up early. Use that time to pray, meditate or exercise.

“Don’t eat too much. It will make you listless. Try not to sleep during the day. It’s a form of escape. Don’t live in the dark. Natural light is best. We lived in darkness. I was always seeking the light.

“Keep your mind active and, as best you can, positive. Read only good books. I know one hostage who read the Quran. He isn’t religious but it comforted him. . ..”

Van Dyk continued, “Seek to get along with everyone, because everyone is afraid and when people are afraid they become irrational.”

He recommended that we try to accomplish something, whether it be reading a book, learning new words or doing more push-ups, but do it every day.

“John McCain said that there were no atheists in the Hanoi Hilton. They found comfort in prayer. So did I, and others. . .

“In the end you will be closer than before. You will have become stronger for having gone through this, and it will make you feel quietly proud and, most important, grateful.”

So, in that spirit, my daughter asked if I wanted to do an exercise video from Alo “Find Your Splits.” It promised that after doing the exercises every day, one would be able to do splits in 28 days. Initially, I groaned, then I thought, “Why not?”

We’re now on Day 7. I’ll keep you posted if I find my “splits.” Here’s to trying something new!



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