Coronavirus: I get it

I finally got it

Now that was some darn good click-bait

I finally got Covid-19.  As in: I finally understood it.

I’ve been angry.  I’ve been depressed.  I’ve been frantic and worried.  I’ve been nervous and sleepless.  I want to squeeze things until they pop.  Honey, take the children into the next room please. Honestly, it’s so bad I’m even about to watch Dumb & Dumber To again and then find something to disassemble.  Where's that darn cat.

It’s impossible to not continually hit F5 and want to see where the numbers are at now, as dismaying as they may perpetually be.  Over 1 million infected.  Over 65,000 dead.  Remember that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where the ghouls are swirling around Indiana Jones and Marion at the opening of the Ark of the Covenant?  Indy says to Marion, “Don’t look, Marion!  Keep your eyes shut!”  People are disintegrating all around them, and grim reapers are swirling through the air at breakneck speed.  That’s kind of where we are now.  Truthfully, I’d rather be tied to a pole with Indy and receive that constant directive – because I need to stop looking around at all the fear.

This plague is causing us to be more depressed, more anxious, more distant, more cautious, more elusive.  We're all lepers: cast out, and isolating, just without the spots.  It’s like when you bring two magnets together that are supposed to magnetize, but their polarity is the same: we’re intentionally repelling each other right now out of necessity.  Kind of like what happens when someone says, "Come on in, I've prepared spaghetti with mushrooms!"  My whole self involuntarily about-faces and I leave the rest of my family there and hit Taco Bell instead.  Maybe it's just me, but fungus as an entree has never been particularly inviting.  It's repulsive.

Little things have set me off lately:

  • People cutting me off in traffic
  • Stores being out of everything essential
  • Voice123 not uploading auditions properly
  • Computer issues
  • Less jobs available
  • Important events being cancelled
  • Customers not paying on time
  • People who don't maintain the 6-feet-apart rule and stand so close you can tell what they had for lunch
  • Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”, because there is no getting out of here, and there is no flying away
  • And as always, Comcast

You ask me, "You mad, bro?" and I'll slap you silly.  Because yes.  Extreme Paranoia and Insatiable Irascibility mated and created a love child and called it Moi.

Call it a mixture of cabin fever.  Call it going stir crazy.  But I’ll call it what it is.

It’s fear.

I don’t mean the kind of fear that overtakes you when you watch mind-numbing Adam Sandler movies and lose all hope for the survival of humankind, or that scary feeling in your tummy when you’re about to claim less income so that you don’t owe this year (don’t deny it, you’ve considered it) I’m talking about real, raw, fear.  Fear because we have no control, and because we may catch this thing too, or someone beloved might.  Or that I'll catch the virus AND there will be no Wi-Fi in the hospital.  At that point just whack me in the head and call the time of death because I'm already outta there.

 

Thanks Yoda

Perhaps Yoda said it best.  The little green guys with the long ears often get it right before the rest of us do.  He said, in that universally-reviled Star Wars chapter, The Phantom Menace: “Fear leads to anger.  Anger leads to hate.  Hate leads to suffering.”

I hate people cutting me off in traffic.  I hate it when the stores don’t have what I need.  I hate it when I can’t upload auditions.  I hate computer issues. I hate having less jobs.  I hate missing out on fellowship with my colleagues.  I hate it when customers don’t pay on time and don’t inform me that they won’t.  I hate people that stand so close and I've already had lunch but what's on their breath smells better than what I had. I hate Tracy Chapman.  And with every fiber of my being and the fire of a thousand suns, I hate Comcast.

Hate hate hate.

Suffering suffering suffering.

In terms of social distancing, Yoda really had that down too.  The guy wasn’t six feet away from people.  He was six light years away.  Dude chose a rotunda on the edge of a swamp to live in.  Had someone simply told him, “Hey, buddy, you’re only three feet tall anyway; you’re out of the direct path of most conversation droplets, be cool” he could have just waved his hand and force-choked them.  But he’s a Jedi Master.  They’re known for niceness and not for force-choking.  If you’re seven feet tall, concealed in a mask, adorned with a black cape and you breathe funny, that’s when you start force-choking people.  I’m kind of in between green and tall, so I reserve the right to practice force-choking our cat, which is how I’ve kept myself busy and sane while in quarantine.

If you really break down what Yoda was saying, all of that hate and suffering begins with Fear.  And these days…I realize I’m full of Fear.

What am I afraid of?  My wife catching it?  My boys catching it?  ME catching it?  Hearing Baby Shark one more time? Well, all of the above, really.  I think most men have a healthy fear of losing things.  Take this for example:

  • I lost a TV remote years ago, and so now I have a healthy appreciation for losing the Apple TV remote, which was intentionally designed to be the size of an atom, thus ensuring loss, thus ensuring a re-purchase from Apple
  • Our first child was born in 2016, and so for 4 years now I have a healthy appreciation for my wife, who is known for pushing things the size of Winnebagos out of things the size of straws, and then being able to bench-press said Winnebagos whilst downing Gatorade. I do not have a straw, but would not want to push a Winnebago through it even if I did.
  • I now own a minivan. So when someone pulls up next to me at a stoplight in a hot-rod, and I can tell the light is about to turn green, well: every man who is reading this sentence knows The Thing That Is Going On In My Stomach.  But never fear.  That minivan goes zero to sixty in four hours, so just look out.
  • When my infant cries out at 2am, and my primal fear of losing sleep kicks in. So that’s when I pull out all the stops and manufacture the most believable snore this world has ever witnessed, which ensures credulity by my wife, which ensures that she goes and gets him instead of me, which ensures that my sleep is uninterrupted, and also an Oscar nomination for Best Snore.
  • Being disagreed with. As a man, nothing gives me more sheer joy and peace in my soul than someone answering my point with a counterpoint, which is another word for argue, which triggers the Argue Gene in me, which triggers a chemical chain reaction that ultimately culminates in my fantasizing about feeding them to sharks.
  • Having Siri mis-dictate my text to my wife “I love you honey, and my life is so full” to something like “I love you, Bonnie, and my wife will never know” or some other delightfully fatal miscommunication

 

Turning Fear Into High Octane

Covid-19 is a killer, for sure.  But at the same time, it is bringing us all together.  Look at things like this.  And this.  And this.  And this.  And this.  And this.  And this.  And this.  And this.  And this.  Tragedy often has a way of galvanizing us into love and action, and it’s a tragically beautiful thing.

On September 11th 2001, the United States realized that we’re vulnerable to calamities that we suspected only transpired across the Atlantic.  The 2008 financial recession informed us that we are also capable of suffering calamities of previous eras, such as the Great Depression and the ensuing meltdown. Now, suddenly, the 1918 Spanish Flu world pandemic is a specter of reality in all of our lives.  On the immediate coattails of each of these events, there was fear.  Much fear.  Fear of loss.  Fear of death.  Fear of using the phrase “specter of reality” in a sentence.

I remember feeling incredibly shaky post-9/11.  In 2008 I remember worrying about what was going to happen with my IRA.  I remember not remembering anything post-Spanish Flu because I did not exist then.

The epiphany came for me when I finally “got” coronavirus.  I finally grasped why I was ready to harm small animals at any given moment; why I snap at regular intervals these days, and why the thought of force-choking the mailman for continually making me sign for packages with his possibly infected pen gave me such a rich thrill.

Plain and simple, like all of us, I’m afraid.

But all of that fear has to go somewhere…and as Yoda so astutely observed, it usually winds up in the realm of anger.  But in the words of Tom Tuttle of Tacoma Washington, we can redirect it.  We can “turn that fear…into high octane.

No photo description available.

How do we do that?

  • We pray
  • We exercise
  • We Facetime with loved ones
  • We work hard and keep our nose to the grindstone
  • We go for walks, if we can
  • We go for drives, if we can
  • We play more games
  • We do more puzzles
  • We envision force-choking the cat. Or the mailman.  Or the cat force-choking the mailman.
  • We read more
  • We sing more
  • We hug more
  • We live more
  • We listen to Yoda more

Yes, by the time this is all over, we all may look like hairy overweight Sasquatches.  I kind of resemble that already.  But if we cut through the fog, we can circumvent the natural progression of fear to anger, and rechannel it into optimism…into high octane.  As Albert Spear said, “Fear is victory’s fuel.”

It’s always eventually been OK.  It will be so again.

Either that or the virus could become self-aware and turn off our heat so that the oceans freeze over and Arctic polar bears and wolves come down and eat us, though we plead "I'm an essential worker!  I'm an essential worker!"

So good luck!  I don’t know about you, but I’m staying tied here to this pole with Indy while everyone’s face melts around me.

Sincerely,

Tom Tuttle

 

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Joshua Alexander
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8 thoughts on “Coronavirus: I get it”

  1. I learned through guided mindfulness that nothing ever turns out as bad as we allow ourselves to imagine. Agonizing over an event does not prevent the event from occurring, so sometimes we need to reign in our overactive imaginations. That thought now gets me through every day.

  2. Gosh darn it, earlier this afternoon I hadn’t yet read your blog and, therefore, missed the opportunity to compliment my elderly male neighbor on the size of his leaf blower – somehow, though, that really just sounds all kinds of wrong! Really like Siri’s blooper, btw! Thanks for the smiles, Josh. We can use all the ones we can get these days!

  3. Thanks Josh, for your words of pure wisdom (some sarcasm)! We need to stay “in touch” with the news but not get consumed by it…a little goes a long way. If our focus is on the news, it feeds obsession, increases depression and paranoia and it will consume our life, as we know it today. None of us have the ability to create the cure or develop a vaccine, so let’s deal with what we can control, our time and our Family. Read the Bible to yourself and your Family, there are amazing stories of rescue, redemption and peace that can be found and shared. FaceTime, Zoom or use whatever your viewing preference is with Family, close and extended and renew the bonds that may have drifted.
    I loved your middle of the night story. In ’84 we had twin boys and during the night, if they awoke, my wife would give my wife a soft kick until I got up for a dual bottle feeding……until one night we found both of us doing it to each other, Busted!
    Love the Blog, you do have one twisted mind once in a while, but that’s why we love you!
    Praying everyone remains safe and healthy and we’ll get through this together!
    Lee

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