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In addition to physicist, international best-selling author, and GPSW Professor of the Practice of the Humanities, Dr. Alan Lightman can add one more accolade to his long list of accomplishments: kudos from Oprah. Earlier this month, Dr. Lightman chatted over Zoom with the media superstar about “The Virus Is a Reminder of Something Lost Long Ago,” a piece he recently wrote for The Atlantic. The piece highlights one faint silver lining buried within the deep tragedy caused by Covid-19—a rare opportunity to slow down, re-evaluate priorities, and take time for self-reflection. Dr. Lightman calls this “the restoration of our inner selves.

“Now we have been struck,” Dr. Lightman writes. “We have a chance to notice: We have been living too fast. We have sold our inner selves to the devil of speed, efficiency, money, hyper-connectivity, progress.’”

In a short discussion for Oprah’s 2020 Vision Tour, Dr. Lightman acknowledged the tremendous suffering caused by Covid and the amount of privilege required to have the space and resources to slow down. He also reiterated the creative value of stillness and quiet reflection, and touched on spiritual experiences he’s had that transcend the limits of science.

“You lose track of your ego, you lose track of your body, and you lose track of time,” Dr. Lightman said. “It’s a beautiful experience.”

The full conversation is below. For more on these themes from Dr. Lightman, check out his books In Praise of Wasting Time and Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine.