How to be self relying when self isolating

Deming Liu
3 min readMar 30, 2020


You self isolate like an omnipotent God! Regardless of staying at home, unlike the primitive being in the cave, you apparently know almost everything that is going on around the whole world and beyond. News media feed you with everything, so do social media, so do your smartphones. Lying around every minute are horrible news, viruses, death, celebrities, divorce, theft, wars, social unrest, other people’s mental issues, other people’s drug addictions, other people’s life in the car boot, so on and on and on, but positive news comes sparse and rare. But, if given the opportunity, you can certainly consume any amount of positive news; that is for sure. Maybe you sometimes pause to be amazed at the power of yourself in knowing everything, and hence persuade yourself that God certainly exists— NOW that you can know the lives of several billion people on earth, why cannot there be a more powerful being called God that knows more and intervenes where he bothers to? Furthermore, God is just like you who can know everything. Coming back to the lives of other people and to the horrible news of death and war etc, you do not have to know about them; they do not concern you, but you know about them because the news media wants you to know, and you choose to know, regardless of whether they would land you in misery.

So, the truth is that it is hard to call the above as self isolation. What is then self-isolation? Throwing the TV in the bin is one way of self-isolation; burning smartphones in the fire is another way; turning eyes and ears to beautiful things and sounds is a further way. Above all, searching deeply within yourself to start to discover yourself is the fruitful way of self-isolation. That is what Emerson calls self-reliance. He would surely ditch fake news generators by means of inventions like TV and other like devices. To him, “the civilized man has built a coach but has lost the use of his feet”; and indeed, “the arts and inventions of each period are only its costume, and do not invigorate men.” Other people’s opinions of you, celebrity news? All goes straight into the junk yard — “what I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. The roses under my window make no reference to formers roses or to better ones; they are for what they are.”

He admonishes us not to go to foreign land to beg a jug of water whilst one has a vast ocean within oneself to drink from. He asks us to refrain from attaching ourselves to being socially engineered; rather, he sees the way out by abiding in the simple and noble region of our lives and following our hearts to recreate the fore-world. He asks us to appreciate our own value and discover ourselves by learning “to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across our mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages.”

He issues stark warning of the truth: nature suffers nothing to remain in her kingdoms which cannot help itself. He also warns, “a political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favourable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”

To that list, one may want to add coronavirus. When it is over, it is over, like water off the duck’s back, and for sure it is quickly forgotten like an ancient event far and remote. Peace does not come with it, nor do good days, unless you find yourself. It is yourself that is with you for good; it is yourself that brings you peace; and indeed it is yourself that takes you out from self-isolation to self-reliance.