Man emerges from 75-day silent retreat with no knowledge of health crisis: ‘How is humanity doing?’
After 75 days in a quiet retreat, a Vermont man is referred to as a "modern Rip Van Winkle" - separate from any news about the current state of the world.
Daniel Thorson, podcast moderator and staff at the Monastic Academy training center, was completely isolated in mid-March, according to the New York Times. During the Buddhist retreat, he had no communication with the outside world, let alone knowledge of the growing global pandemic.
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Thorson ended his isolation on May 23 and logged back in to Twitter with a message that quickly went viral.
"I am back in silence from 75 days. Have I forgotten something?" he wrote.
I am back in silence from 75 days. Did I forgot something?
- Daniel Thorson (@dthorson), May 23, 2020
In an interview with the New York Times, Thorson described the hours after his tweet that he learned of countless stories related to the health crisis, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson's hospitalization and the increase in cases in US meat packaging plants.
However, there were also some positive aspects. Thorson was able to reconnect with his family members and reconnect with the outside world. He even learned that his cousin had met a new romantic partner through a social distance dating site.
There were some adjustments along the way. Just like the fictional Rip Van Winkle, who had fallen asleep for 20 years and missed the entire American Revolution, Thorson had some problems catching up with his new reality.
"I would turn a corner in the supermarket and someone would be there and they would withdraw," he said. "I didn't install the Covid operating system. First I said," Whoa, what did I do? "
However, the 33-year-old expected some changes. He told the New York Times that he had definitely been thinking about the possibility that something drastic could happen while he was away.
"I thought will it be 'Mad Max' out there like we're the last survivors?" he said. "How is humanity doing?"
Now Thorson has had a few weeks to adjust, and in the meantime he's a fascinating point for social media users and mainstream news agencies. In addition to his profile in the Times, he went viral on TikTok China and shared his experience with Inside Edition.
In conversation with Inside Edition, Thorson described his first encounter with face masks as a very "science fiction film experience".
The people in the supermarket seem more scared than I remember.
- Daniel Thorson (@dthorson), May 25, 2020
However, he also feels that the distance has given him a perspective. Thorson told The New York Times that he has had difficulty addressing all opinions and analysis since his retreat - but has found that at least one is true.
"There is a consensus proposal that I think everyone is keeping," he said. "It is that everything that has happened in the past three months is one of the most significant events in modern history."
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