OYL March 1

One Year Later: I began my COVID journal on March 24th. The intent was to write down things that were catching my attention due to the pandemic. For my entries prior to March 24th, I wrote about what I recalled.

A year ago, sunset lit up the early-blossoming rhododendrons in the front of the house. The season is late this year. The same plant currently has one open blossom – maybe two weeks behind looking like it does in this photo. My faded US flag has also been replaced. I feel that it’s disrespectful to display the flag once it’s getting battered. This is also addressed in [USC02] 4 USC Ch. 1: THE FLAG (house.gov). I’ll admit I don’t follow all the rules, however. I fly the flag at night, and in rain. If I could only hoist my flag on dry days, it would only fly 27 days a year here!!

“The first death in the United States attributed to coronavirus was in Kirkland, Washington on February 29, 2020.”

“By March 1, I was getting sick of all the experts being interviewed and their first advice was not to panic. Oh really? That was going to be my first approach. Dang, now what do I do, now that I can’t panic? I guess I’ll just have to approach it calmly. The next day I heard the death total in Washington was up to 6.”

At the time, my friends Bryan and Penny were living in Kirkland. Bryan is a writer and a member of the clergy, and his articles during this time were deeply introspective and moving. The pandemic hit them before anyone else, and his perspective was a window into what the rest of us would soon see.

Also, am I the only one who thinks advice to “Don’t Panic” (in large, friendly letters) is the dumbest waste of words and breath ever? If someone is on the brink of terror, do they stop and say to themselves, “Oh, I remember some epidemiologist on TV yesterday told me not to panic, so I will not?” Also, what is panicking? I am pretty sure I couldn’t define it in useful terms. I could say in general, it’s when you allow your fears to take over your rational thinking. But what does it look like in practice? How would someone in the first stage of panic recognize what they are doing? Is panic screaming? Hyperventilating? Vision going fuzzy? Yelling at the kids? What exactly are the signs of impending panic?

Basically, my point is, it’s totally worthless, ridiculous advice. “Don’t panic” probably also means a thousand different things to a thousand different people. Not to mention, someone panicking is the last person who has the presence of mind to consider the pros and cons of their behavioral choices.

These people are doctors for chrissakes, haven’t they ever dealt with people before? Say something useful, like “When you feel your heart rate increasing, it will be a thumping in your chest, or a tightness. Your breathing may quicken. This means you are feeling anxious. Anxiety is a normal reaction to the news you are hearing and there is nothing wrong with you if it happens. However, anxiety reduces your ability to make the best decisions. So here is my advice, when you feel your heart rate increase, you need to take a few long, slow breaths and try to slow your heart down. If someone is nearby, tell them you are feeling anxiety.” Etcetera etcetera. Now, wouldn’t that advice be MUCH more helpful than some doofus saying not to panic?

11 thoughts on “OYL March 1

  1. To be charitable toward doctors and experts and people in general, the soundbite of “Don’t Panic!” β€” like “calm down” or “don’t be angry” or “be happy” and even our current greeting of “stay safe” β€” is not so much a manual for what to do as a reminder for someone to stop and think about what one is doing and be self-aware. And sure, when people are panicking, they want to indulge in said panic, so they will react badly to such reminders.

    You say that it would be more useful to read:
    When you feel your heart rate increasing, it will be a thumping in your chest, or a tightness. Your breathing may quicken. This means you are feeling anxious. Anxiety is a normal reaction to the news you are hearing and there is nothing wrong with you if it happens. However, anxiety reduces your ability to make the best decisions. So here is my advice, when you feel your heart rate increase, you need to take a few long, slow breaths and try to slow your heart down. If someone is nearby, tell them you are feeling anxiety.

    But, someone who is anxious and in an agitated state isn’t any more likely to sit and read all that and calmly assess their mental and physical state. The “don’t panic” is no more than a placeholder, and a reminder to know oneself. Short-hand, if you will, for the longer advice.

    Basically, no matter how it’s phrased (long or short form) it’s my experience that people won’t listen and often prefer to wallow in their self-pity and mystery. Nearly everyone, it seems, likes to play the victim.

    Anyway, take care (meaning, make sure you are actively working to maintain physical and mental health by way of a good diet, exercise, and provisions to minimize potential disruptions in your life that might cause a loss or degradation in said mental or physical health) and stay safe (meaning, practice common sense procedures during this pandemic, like wearing a mask, not french kissing sick people, and washing your hands often, as well as avoiding crowded spaces with insufficient ventilation. Also, buy a gun and become proficient at it. Basic knife-fighting skills are also a plus, but I’d suggest avoiding getting into hand-to-hand combat situations. To wit, carrying pepper spray in addition to a gun is a good idea recommended by security and personal safety experts.)

    1. Ha! I see what you’re saying, but I disagree. At the time of these supposed well-meaning messages, it was experts being interviewed in relatively long programs of 20 minutes or so. I still maintain that when a person is on the verge of panic, hearing “don’t panic” is totally useless, as would be my long-form helpful advice. But if they’re watching the news one morning, and an expert explains the whole thing, then another day, when they’re about to panic, they’ll know what’s happening. The problem is, no one ever explained what panicking is, or how to stop it in all those interviews. They just said, “don’t panic.”

      I also think “stay safe” is worthless advice. I used to get it all the time when I was dating: “stay safe.” I’d ask the person directly “What exactly does that mean? Please give me real advice. I’ve clearly not made the best decisions before, so give me something I can actually use.” But no one could. Luckily, I no longer need this advice. It’s like saying “How are you?” when you meet someone. You don’t really want to know how they are, you only want to say some socially acceptable words.

      I’ll also disagree with you on guns and knives. Unless you’re hungry and need to eat, I can’t see a reason to have guns. I also don’t think knife-fighting skills are a realistic way to deal with danger. Also, I am not willing to get into a debate about this here, so please don’t. We need more love, not more violence.

  2. Last week I went to the supermarket and paid for my goods with a credit card at a self serve checkout. Next I visited a store opposite and went to pay at the checkout but couldn’t find the card. I searched my wallet, I searched my pockets. Several times. I went back to the supermarket but it wasn’t there and it hadn’t been handed in. I was panicking really bad. Got in the car and drove home, cussing all the slow drivers blocking my way, got to the phone to report the card lost, had one last look in my wallet and bugger me there it was. I had a beer to calm down.

  3. If anyone told me not to panic when I was looking down from a great height they would definitely be wasting their breath. When my son, Sam, rowed the Atlantic I 2004 he flew the UK flag. It came home very shredded and is now framed.

    1. Heh heh. Sometimes I just need a good panic to get it out of my system, and then I calm down on my own. I wonder how many people are like that?

      I’m so glad you kept that flag! The battering is especially meaningful. I think framing it is the best possible thing because it’s respectful, even though the flag is damaged. I’d say even more so because it’s damaged.

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