In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, when shutdowns and travel restrictions were happening at a head-spinning pace, it was a social media parlor game to wonder about a person who was on an isolated camping trip or on a spiritual retreat, emerging out of the woods and into a dramatically changed reality. That person, it turned out, was Jared Leto, who was in a silent meditation retreat when the world changed last March.
In an interview on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Leto revealed, “When I went away, there were about 150 cases and just in that short amount of time, when I came out, there was a shutdown, a state of emergency, and the whole world had changed.” Since the point of the retreat was to eliminate as many distractions as possible so that participants could focus on their meditation practice, the actor spoke to no one, watched no TV, and didn’t have access to his phone. “They made a decision, ‘Let’s not disturb the participants,’” Leto explained. “And I didn’t turn on my phone until I went back to L.A. So, I drove the whole way trying to be, like, peaceful and zen, keep the feeling going. I got back, and I was, you know, kind of shocked. It was like Rip Van Winkle.”
That shocked feeling is also palpable in the original message Leto wrote on his Instagram account after discovering the extent of the spread of the coronavirus while he was away. “Wow. 12 days ago I began a silent meditation in the desert,” he wrote. “We were totally isolated. No phone, no communication etc. We had no idea what was happening outside the facility. Walked out yesterday into a very different world. One that’s been changed forever. Mind blowing—to say the least. I’m getting messages from friends and family all around the globe and catching up on what’s going on.” He added that he was “sending positive energy to all. Stay inside. Stay safe.”
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