Finding Balance

In Isolation with Rich Roll and Tiger King

Having a lot of time on our hands is like a preview to what old age will be like. I have become my mother thirty years earlier than expected. I remember chuckling when my mom would be exhausted after a busy day of going through a pile of mail, reading the paper and replying to two emails. I have not left Dogford Road in nineteen days.

For the first time in years, the structure of my week is based around one regular obligation: a scheduled Zoom meeting. Keeping track of forms and phone calls that require action demand an incredible amount of focus and planning. My daily ritual of recording the miles I run, the hours I sleep, the minutes I meditate, and the ounces of water I take in has become a featured task of the day. I am writing and researching for future speaking engagements and cooking a lot, but none of those tasks are executed as aggressively as the way I listen to podcasts, take on cleaning projects, and watch Tiger King.

If you must continue to resist Tiger King, have at it, but you are missing something oddly special. I shamelessly admit that Tiger King is the most compelling thing I have consumed since S-Town, the serial podcast that tracks the bizarre life of horologist John B. McLemore. The bottomless pit of nonsense, the absurdity of every situation, and the bat-shit crazy characters of Tiger King would have caught me in their web no matter how full my schedule. It is a feast! There are only seven episodes, so it won’t interfere with any efforts you might make to improve your mind, enrich your soul, or be productive. Spoiler alert: You will use some brain space wondering who killed Carol’s husband and whether or not he was fed to a big cat.

The unethical breeding of big cats is the main theme, but the people who are connected to that world are beyond belief. Each of the groups is its own cult. I encourage skeptics to consider viewing this series up until Joe’s eulogy for one of his husbands. Yes, people, freestyle polygamy and the ensuing drama is just an aspect of this story. Testicle praise does not usually occur in or seem appropriate for a eulogy, but perhaps I am a tad prude and run in the wrong circles. There is this lurking undercurrent of a porn cult flowing with all the big cat owners; it is unsettling when they refer to one of their cats as “Sexy Tiger,” entwine themselves and slither around with the cats on couches.

It is a must see.

The Rich Roll Podcast is intellectually enriching and highly engaging. Rich Roll is thirteen years sober, an ultra runner, and a plant-based advocate. Even though I have never done drugs or alcohol, will never run more than ten miles again because of my knees, and eat the meats, Rich Roll fully draws me into the interviews with his wisdom and amazing questions. Because the interviews are two hours long, you really get to know his guests and their work, even on topics that I previously assumed I had no interest.

Over the last few weeks, Rich Roll has been my companion through a kitchen clean, a mudroom purge, a storage room take down, the organization of my desk, and many meal preparations. Sometimes I sling seven or eight games of solitaire while I stretch a few more minutes of a RR episode. As soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning, I am already thinking about the joy of sitting by the wood stove in the boot room of Pierce’s Inn, drinking TAZO Wild Sweet Orange tea, and gazing out at the view while learning so many new things from Rich Roll’s interviews. Luckily, I didn’t get onto his podcast until episode 467 (interview with Kelly Corrigan), so I have hundreds of older episodes to carry me through this time of isolation, cleaning projects, cooking of meals and beyond.

With the most glaring cleaning projects done, I plan to build in more structure around writing and research. I am doing my best to follow my friend Elizabeth Keene’s daily guidelines, simple aims we can fold into our most productive days or the days we choose to relax.

Elizabeth Keene’s Isolation Guidelines

1. Exercise
2. Do something fun/leisurely for myself
3. Do something fun/leisurely with my family
4. Do something productive for myself
5. Do something productive for family/household

Be safe. Be well. And give Tiger King a spin. Spoiler alert #2: Our son informed us that the case of Carol’s missing husband has been reopened.

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