Dealing with the fear of Coronavirus

You’re thinking about it; I’m thinking about it. Let’s talk about it. What is it?

Coronavirus. 

A couple of nights ago, I was sitting in this ramen shop waiting for my friend, when I heard it: Coughing. Two women seated next to me coughed with this dry wheezing kind of cough. Maybe you would have been fine with it. I wasn’t. I cringed. And I tried to scoot away, hoping they wouldn’t point their mouths in my direction and didn’t notice my slow methodical scooches. It was silly but real. 

The friend I was waiting for showed up. We caught up and the conversation floated to the topic du jour. As we slurped on noodles and broth, he reminded me that he was going to Hawaii this week for vacation (I know, hard life). His plan was to meet his in-laws, who live in Australia, to enjoy a couple of weeks in paradise together, basking under the warm pacific sun with leis around their necks, sipping on umbrella drinks while his kids played on the silky beach, surrounded by guys twirling torches, dancing. Ok, so some of that was exaggerated, but not by much. But now, COVID19 is causing his in-laws to second-guess going. 

I asked him if he was worried about traveling, adding that I would be worried. “Oh, we’ll just wash our hands,” he said straight-faced. He noted that there hadn’t been any confirmed cases there, and he goes by the data, not fear. 

As much as I admire my friend’s stance, I don’t agree with it. To be clear, I agree with data and find his courage stirring. But I would be more cautious.

But I will admit that my caution looks more like fear. It’s probably because it is.

And I hate the fear I’m feeling, the I-think-anyone-who-has-a-dry-cough-has-a-deadly-virus kind of fear. It’s an overarching dread I feel like there’s a zombie apocalypse coming and I can’t do anything to stop it. It’s awful. 

Maybe you’re feeling it, too. 

When I feel that way, I pray; I also, like my friend, wash my hands twenty times a day and make my wife and kids do the same. But when I’m not lathering up, I ask God to help me fear less. I pray for the people in China, Italy, South Korea, Iran, the world, my friend who’s traveling and all the other people I love. And I ask for protection, wisdom, and help. It helps. 

Watching a video of a World Health Organization doctor also helped. He reported on his findings from a trip to China he was just on, sharing that the Chinese government was able to curb the spread of the virus with success. Knowing this isn’t the zombie apocalypse also eases my fears. 

No one knows where this global story is going. Trying is futile. And I’m not saying I have all of the answers. I don’t. I’m just a guy writing this blog post in his underwear with huge headphones on.

But I do urge you to be cautious and take this seriously, without giving into your baser fears. I think the distinction is whether or not we are being reactionary and deeply emotional.

Fear makes the world the enemy and bases decisions on worst case scenarios. I’m not saying you shouldn’t draw out worst case scenarios. I am saying that you should not make decisions off of them, since very rarely do they happen. That’s a fear-based mindset.

Whereas caution is more mindful. It takes into account the potential dangers, even the worst, but it doesn’t overreact. It makes measured choices and plans. It protects without making everyone the enemy. It’s vigilant without being violent.

Believe me; I’m not pointing any fingers or judging anyone who’s living in fear because this guy (me) has been doing a lot of worst-case-scenario-ing these days.

This is serious. And I know that I’ve sprinkled humor in this post. But I did that to give you a little delight on a sour subject. Humor is also a coping mechanism for me. 

Laughter is medicine. 

I’d love to know how all of you are thinking about this and hear from you. Please reach out. 

In the meantime, I pray that this finds you well, safe, and healthy. 

Leave a Reply