The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. - Franklin D. Roosevelt
For weeks now I’ve been putting out content in the form of blogs and videos, doing my best to go about life as usual and ignore the giant, crown shaped elephant in the room that’s on everyone’s mind and being talked about non-stop in every news outlet around the world. I’ve avoided discussing it because it doesn’t really have anything to do with music or being a musician directly, and since I’m not a medical expert, I didn’t really feel qualified to discuss the subject. But it’s such a prevalent part of what’s going on in the world at the moment and it’s having such an impact on the world, including the live concert industry, that I feel it would be somewhat out of touch to not saying anything at all about it. Of course, I’m talking about the Corona Virus and like many of you I can assume, it’s been on my mind a bit the last few weeks.
When I was younger, as in my pre-teen years into my early twenties, I was a pretty major hypochondriac. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I used to spend a lot of time at my local library researching different diseases I thought I might have and I would freak out every time I had what I thought was a symptom related to one of several different possible diseases or conditions I could hypothetically have. Once I had an episode of chest pains that led me to the emergency room. Six hours later, after several tests I went home with a clean bill of health and a 900 dollar hospital bill.
As I got older, these sorts of irrational fears and worries and episodes of over- reacting gradually subsided. I think at a certain point I sort of got bored with my own fears and realized the futility of getting worked up over every possible thing that could go wrong health wise. Every once in a while, if I have some sort of new or unexplained symptom, if I’m not careful, I can temporarily fall down the rabbit hole of fear and dread that is the internet, trying to self-diagnose myself and getting sucked into worst case scenario outcomes listed on different medical websites. These days I’m able to avoid letting my mind go there for very long. I approach things more rationally and objectively.
When I look back at all the wasted energy and time spent worrying about things that never came to pass, I realize that all my worry and fear accomplished nothing, or at the best very little. You could argue that evolutionarily speaking, a certain amount of fear is healthy. It’s our survival instinct. If I’m afraid that there’s something wrong with my heart and that motivates me to get it checked out and I discover there is something wrong and I catch it early, then that fear served a purpose. I’m being proactive about my health. And a certain amount of concern over health and well being is good. A certain amount. Just enough to get you to take the necessary action. But anything over that, any time spent ruminating or being anxious or wasting time fretting about things you can’t control is pointless. It accomplishes nothing and robs you of energy that could be channeled into more productive pursuits you could be focused on during your finite time on earth.
It’s the same with over arching fears we have about our lives and our ability to survive. Think about how fear effects the choices we make in the context of something like pursuing our goals related to music. If we fear for our security and survival too much it can hold us back from chasing our dreams and achieving our goals at all and we’ll resign ourselves to living a safe, but unfulfilled life. On the other hand, if we simply throw caution to the wind and go after our dreams with no safety net or back up plan we could, worst case scenario, end up homeless or destitute. So, a little bit of fear is healthy. It’s our mind’s attempt to mitigate the risks of life. But when we let fear dictate our lives and control us, it holds us back. Like the Buddhists say, take the middle way.
It’s been interesting to see the reaction of my friends and acquaintances to the Corona Virus. It runs the gamut from little to no concern on one end, to one of my friends buying hazmat suits for him and his family. And everything in between. I’m somewhere in the middle, leaning towards, on most days, not really giving it much thought. I bought a jar of hand sanitizer and about two weeks worth of Vienna sausages, pasta and water last week. I’m doing my best to stay informed but to also approach things rationally and calmly. I won’t get into the statistics or data in this blog post, because I’m certainly no epidemiologist, and there’s so much conflicting data coming out of an endless stream of news outlets, who all have their own agenda, as do the governments reporting the data, that it’s almost impossible to interpret intelligently or accurately.
But I will say this, even based on the absolute worst-case scenario, in terms of statistics being reported and data we currently have available, the vast majority of us will survive this. Just like we survived H1N1, Ebola, Swine Flu, Sars, Influenza and countless other outbreaks we were told to fear. In the meantime, life goes on and I personally refuse to be overcome by or give in to fear. Plus, fear and stress lowers your immune system, so it’s counter-productive to fighting viruses anyway.
I was talking to a friend recently about the Corona Virus and he seemed concerned. After several minutes of reciting data I had heard and assuring him we’ll probably be ok, I looked at him and said, you know, either way, we’re all going to die in the end anyway, so it’s probably not worth losing sleep over. And with that my friend smiled in agreement and we moved on to a different topic.