Looking for Wisdom? No Need to Wait for Sudden Peril

Reader Antonia writes from Italy:

With the new virus (and related anxiety) spreading over Italy these past weeks, lots of people are working from remote. While the overall issues about purpose, working hours, etc. are not being directly addressed, for many jobs working from home is proving to be just fine…

Similarly, Tom muses in the Idler this week that the Coronavirus might lead to green-minded and idler-compatible working practices. He quotes the Financial Times: “China’s coronavirus-related slowdown has wiped out the equivalent of the UK’s carbon emissions over six months.”

So we’ve learned that people working from home (using technology and systems that have been in place for over a decade) instead of expending resources in travelling to spiritually-corrosive and uncreative workplaces can lead to an easy reduction in harmful pollution and carbon emissions. Amazing.


…I wonder did we need an epidemic to realize that?

I think this is an excellent question. It’s crazy that it would take the terror of an epidemic to make people realise that (a) remote working is easy and beneficial and (b) the eradication of commuting would decrease pollution and carbon emissions. Why can’t we just have foresight?

It reminds me of the cancer journals I wrote about in Escape Everything! After reading a selection of diaries left to a hospital library by the terminally ill, I noted that people tend to come to the same conclusions about life when they’re facing death. They conclude that time with family and friends are the important thing, that work and career and striving were a harmful waste of time. It was sad to read but I couldn’t help thinking “why did it take a cancer diagnosis to make you understand this?”

It’s almost as if it weren’t the central message of almost every religion, philosophical system, and Hollywood movie ever made.

It shouldn’t take illness and the fear of immediate death to assess (and commit to) one’s priorities. You could do it right now.

(It is not my intention in this post to be flippant about Coronavirus. If you’re actually worried about it, the Guardian published some nice reassurances this morning).


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at www.wringham.co.uk/about.

Leave a Reply

Latest issues and offers


Issues One to Seven

A bundle of our first seven issues. Featuring minimalism, Houdini, Leo Babauta, Bohemianism, Alain de Botton, Sartre, and Tom Hodgkinson. 567 pages. £35.


Issues Eight to Thirteen

A bundle of our last six issues. Featuring Luke Rhinehart, Flaubert, Mr Money Mustache, part-time work, Will Self, home life, Richard Herring, and E. F. Schumacher. 593 pages. £30.

Issue Thirteen

Our final issue. Featuring an interview with celebrity mortician Caitlin Doughty; Matt Caulfield on zen fool Ryokan; and Reggie C. King on David Bowie and Sun Ra. 122 pages. £7.

Escape Everything!

A hardback guide to scarpering. Essential reading for wage slaves and slugabeds alike. Published by Unbound and Penguin. 230 pages. £12.