Introduction: You probably know the story of Siddhartha who was born more than 2500 years ago in India and who grew up to become the Buddha. Now, imagine another young person following a similar path toward enlightenment but born approximately 14 years ago in Berkeley… and imagine that her name is Mika Suzuki.

Mika was sitting in the living room reading a book. She liked to read a lot, but lately, it seemed like that was all she could do. She was normally an active teen ager, a good student, a fairly good basketball player, and a total social butterfly at the ice-cream parlor where all her friends like to hang out. But since this “pandemic-thing” happened, she really couldn’t do any of that. “No wonder my butt hurts” she said to her mom. “I’ve been sitting here for six weeks.”

“So the ice-cream eating basketball player doesn’t exist anymore? Is that right?” Her mom asked. “Well who is this person sitting in my living room now?”

“I’ll have to think about that” Mika said.

“Well,” said her mom. “That’s a start… you are a person who thinks.”

“Yeah. I was thinking I’m bored and my butt hurts.”

“Ah,” said her mother. “That could be the first step toward enlightenment. You have gained some insight into your existence. What else do you think about?” 

“I think you are trying to be some kind of guru… and I think I would rather be talking to some of my friends.”

“Ah,” her mother said again. “Step one, you are a thinker. Step two, friendship is important to you.”

“Mom! Stop it. I’m gonna call Naomi!”

So Mika picked up her cell phone and called Naomi. After just one ring, Naomi answered and ...reading the name on the phone.. she said “Oh wow..Hi Mika..I miss you so much..I’ve been sitting in this house so long my butt hurts.” Mika laughed.

Mika said “now I know why you are my best friend..we have something in common.” 

“What’s that?” asked Naomi.

“Never mind,” said Mika. “It’s just that we are both bored and it really feels good to know that being bored is something that happens to humans. I was beginning to think I was the only one and I was going crazy. Say, do you have any ice cream in your freezer? Maybe we could both eat a bowl of ice cream together and sort of have a virtual after-school-hang-out.”

Naomi sounded excited..”What a great idea..I really miss our gossip sessions.”

Mika said “Me too. That’s another thing we have in common. Maybe that’s another thing that is just natural for us humans. I never thought about an ice cream social as being such an important activity but it really feels like it is an important part of my life and I miss it.”

“You miss the ice cream that badly?” teased Naomi.

“No, I think I miss people that badly. I never thought about it exactly like this before. I don’t think I was meant to be alone for so long. I think having friends really is an important element in my life.” 

“You are good with words, Mika. I mean, I think you are right and I never thought about that before either.”

“So Naomi,” Mika asked, “do you have an email list for all of our friends? I was just thinking we could have a Zoom ice cream virtual hang out with the gang. It would be so cool to see everyone and talk to everyone about everything we are doing….and not doing.”

Naomi said she had a pretty complete list and she would be able to arrange the Zoom meeting.

Mika thought for a moment and said “you know, Naomi, I think we just uncovered an important truth. Humans need other humans in order to feel human. I think we all have that in common, and I think we just learned something about ourselves, didn’t we.”

Naomi said “Mika, you are starting to talk like some kind of a guru.”