The world learned a lot of things during the past (almost) two years. It learned that what harms one can harm all. It learned that not everyone will be completely sane in the face of adversity. And it learned to fear … everything.

Fear is a wonderful emotion. It’s what keeps us safe(ish). From stepping on snakes and hanging around when a sabre-toothed tiger is in the vicinity. It keeps off us off dangerous streets at night. But how much fear is too much fear? And is the lack of fear just as bad as too much?

Covid has broken us into two distinct camps. The deniers and the believers (not unlike religion, I suppose). And fear dictates how each group operates. On one hand, the anti-vax, anti-mask, anti-everything-that-I-don’t-want-to-believe-in-because-it-doesn’t-benefit-me crowd operates by pretending that fear doesn’t exist. That the danger is made up. By absolving themselves of fear they pretend to be invincible. But that is an impossible goal. By denying fear they are not benefiting from its gift of protection. Instead of allowing a healthy amount of fear to guide them towards safer seas, they choose to instead live in danger. Ego and “face” are more important than life to many.

But since I am not one of that persuasion, I really cannot properly comment on what it’s like to live like that. I can only see the results from the outside.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are those who have been so bombarded with doom and gloom from the pandemic that fear has become a daily part of their lives. In every aspect. Nothing is untouched. Even fully vaccinated people who continue to follow protocols are left semi-quivering in fear … indoors and away from others … because everything looks like that sabre-toothed tiger. And even with advances and “good news” about the lessening of risk for vaccinated people, they cannot shake the “fight or flight … oh hell, let’s just hide!” mechanism that has taken over their lives.

And just like the “anti-crowd”, the “believers” are also not allowing fear to guide them. They are allowing fear to control them instead. And there is a huge difference. Let me tell you my story.

When the pandemic hit and the world locked down, I only took it semi-seriously. Not that I thought it was a hoax, but it took time to understand the severity. Fear built inside me instead of suddenly appearing. But once it started to take hold, it didn’t stop growing. I reached the point where I was an absolute Mask Nazi. If I saw a nose, I would wish the most horrible things upon the owner. I didn’t venture outside the house except for necessities. I couldn’t read the news because I was so shell-shocked. The anger I would feel at the anti-crowd (because they were endangering our collective species!) was overwhelming.

And then one day I realized that fear was controlling me … and that I had no control.

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I’m somewhere in the middle now, albeit dealing with different covid-feelings. (I’ll spare you the diatribe about this now being an epidemic of the un-vaccinated and how I’m sick and tired of enabling idiots who won’t help themselves … wait, I guess I did just tell you. LOL!).

I am vaccinated, even though I was in a high-risk group for taking the shot. I still wear a mask indoors as appropriate. And I’m starting to venture back into life without undue fear. My old anger at those who … well, you know who they are … has all but left the building.

How? I don’t know, honestly. At some point I realized that I was in a prison, but that I also had a key. This is why I concocted The Pivot. Starting travel again, regardless of what was happening in the covid world. (And believe me, I’m not cavalier about that, precautions will be taken for the safety of all).

I did what I was supposed to do. I got trapped like so many others in a grip of irrational fear, and now I’m finding my way back to something healthier. There are no guarantees in life so we need to use emotions like fear for our benefit. To reduce unnecessary risk while allowing acceptable risk to bring us to wonderful places.

If you are still on the extremes, I implore you to do some self-realization. Fear is a wonderful tool. Sure, it feels horrible, but it’s there for a reason. If you’re an “Anti”, I beg you to look beyond your own skin. To allow a modicum of fear to enter your life so you can make better decisions for all of us. If you’re locked in your own prison, I also implore you to embrace fear as it should be held. To guide you, and to keep you safe. Because if it’s only keeping you from living, then what’s the point of using it to just stay healthy?

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