Richard Peden: Alone, But Connected

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We are alone, but we are connected as never before. What will we do with this moment? Richard Peden has this Perspective.

Life has shifted in my quiet neighborhood. The now unemployed carpenter is playing his drums everyday for a few hours much to the dismay of his close neighbors. But he has the time. People are walking the bare streets; people I have never met before from my quarantined terrace. Families, kids on scooters, singles with dogs lots of dogs. I was worried about one 75-year-old man jogging and wheezing but he was moving and determined.

Who are these strangers? Years of Buddhist practice obviously didn’t register because being forced to sit still in the current cacophony isn’t working for me. Or maybe it is. This is what it takes for, not only me but my neighbors to embody the cauldron we find ourselves in.  All the TV updates and hours spent rechecking news feeds is only numbing the desire not addressing it.

We need to stay in and cease the spread of the unknown but ... what about the known? In our most tender, vulnerable moments we desperately need the contact of other humans. We sadly lack the teachers to guide us in dealing with this chasm. We take to the streets to bump into something solid.

So, we must rely on that crazy wisdom thing that makes hundreds go to their balconies each night and applaud the brave health workers ... and those zany videos of our Zoom fetish ... those photographers disobeying lockdowns to walk the now barren but somehow holy, pristine streets of Venice capturing the silence that had previously been forgotten. Will we find ourselves in our small apartments? Or are we anxious for this thing to be over so we can go back to ... “normal”?


This moment has brought me closer to my friends abroad and those on the street. For once we are under the same conditions of enclosure and opportunity. Now what? Do we go back to sleep? How do we dance the dream awake? All I know is I need to somehow tell the drummer down the street to listen to more of The Meters and a little less Skynyrd.

With a Perspective, I’m Richard Peden.

Richard Peden designs and builds custom wine cellars and is based in Sonoma.