‘Did I Miss Something?’: A Man Emerges From a 75-Day Silent Retreat

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‘Did I Miss Anything?’: A Man Emerges From a 75-Day Silent Retreat

Mr. Thorson is not a Buddhist who shies away from current events.

After graduating from college, he was the organizer of Occupy Wall Street, camped out in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, and dealt with pedestrians. He logged on to the Buddhist Geeks movement for a number of years, promoting the use of online technology for those seeking enlightenment. His podcast "Emerge" tries to explore "the next phase of the human experiment".

After ending his 75 days of silence, he was excited to see what was going on in the world.

"I thought is it going to be 'Mad Max' out there like we were the last survivors?" he said. "How is mankind?"

The first thing he saw after leaving the meditation center was a gas station and people in shorts, a scene so characteristic of northern Vermont that he was deeply reassured.

"It's Vermont," he said. "Someone can get gas."

However, new impressions followed. He ventured into a Shaws supermarket that was intent on human contact, and instead found fear. As he passed people, their eyes darted around as if looking for threats. One thing that seemed to frighten her was Mr. Thorson, who didn't know how to socialize.

"I would turn a corner at the supermarket and someone would be there and they would retire," he said. "I didn't install the Covid operating system. At first I said, 'Whoa, what did I do?"

He had been looking forward to re-diving into his online world, an environment he had always found "nutritious".

However, when he spent two and a half months reviewing posts by people he admired, he was shocked to find that they were only talking about one thing. "Everything else is gone," he said. "The choice is nothing! It's wonderful! The Australian forest fires, what happened there? Didn't Brexit happen?"

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