Tuesday, January 18, 2022

But It Actually Is Scary, And It Has Been All Along

      As the pandemic has waxed and waned, and a confusing pandemic of information, misinformation, poorly-presented information, slick nonsense, grift, sincere efforts and personal loathing has ebbed and flowed, one thing has remained constant: accusations of fear, from maskless folk proclaiming they're not going to live in fear to pro-vaxers accusing anti-vaxers of being afraid of inoculation.  Whatever path we have personally chosen is brave, and the people who do something different, well, they're frightened, that's all.  Chickens, cowering in fear, nothing at all like ourselves.

      Yeah, about that -- you know who's most likely to boast of being unafraid?  Scared people.  Astronauts may make wisecracks about heading into the sky atop "a pile of parts all made by the lowest bidder," but not a one of them will tell you how brave he or she is; that's not how the Right Stuff works.

      Nobody signed up to test-pilot a global pandemic.  We sure weren't screened of our ability to cope with it.  No matter who you are -- yes, even that guy who always says, "The bug that bites me, dies" -- this is scary stuff and we don't all deal with it in the same way.  I'm a diligent striver; I wear my (KN-95) mask to the grocery, and oh, my, the big, bearded, unmasked utility worker ahead of me in line with a defiant expression, buying a pack of Oreos, what does he think he's doing?

      He's dealing with it, is what.  Not in the same way; not in a way I think is wise or advisable.  But I'm not the boss of him.  I don't know his story.  Maybe he's already had the stuff and three vaccine shots on top of that, and he figures the odd are on his side.  Maybe he's unjabbed and has never been ill, and between that and patching up high voltage cables, live steam or gas lines, he feels invulnerable.   I don't know.

      I do know he's felt the cold finger of fear on his spine.  Maybe he only blinked once and kept moving; maybe he lays awake at night, staring at the ceiling, wondering what comes next.  Or he does something entirely different, and there are dreams, bills, children, spouses, bosses and traffic that loom as large or larger.

      But nobody expected this, nobody thought it would last this long, and you know what?  Sometimes it's scary.  Sometimes life is.  We get through it, mostly, as we always have.

      Just remember: you have felt fear.  Those other people?  They have, too.  Some of them are scared right now.  They're doing as well as they can.  We're not all making the same choices and our reasons are as varied as our faces, hair colors, accents.

      No one is keeping score.  There is no audience, no ratings, no big cash prize if you make it all the way.  Taunting, boasting, shaming -- it hasn't changed anything so far and it is less likely to do so with every passing day.  We're all whistling past the graveyard.  We're just not all whistling the same tune.

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