Swift | Silent | Deadly

Scattered Thoughts about the COVID-19 Crisis

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Today I want to offer just a few scattered thoughts on the current COVID-19 crisis. There really isn’t a common theme to these, they’re just some thoughts I’ve had as I’ve worked my property of the past few days.

Take advantage of this time

I’m far from the first person to say it, but if you’re stuck at home, get better at something. Dry practice (safely). Read books. Learn how to tie knots (articles coming soon). Learn to pick locks. Pick something and spend just a few minutes a day on it and improve yourself. Set yourself up to be able to look back on this time and say, “yeah, that’s when I learned Morse code / started playing guitar / took up ____ ” or “Coronavirus? That’s when I finally started writing my book / launched my website / remodeled the basement!”

Appreciate this time

I just got back from the grocery store. Before I went I contacted a friend. “Does x store have milk? What about meat? How was everything else looking?” Though I live in a rural area and can go to the grocery store, getting everything you want is no longer a foregone conclusion. I certainly didn’t get everything on my list.

This is how much of the world lives. In fact, much of the world has it much, much harder than this. We still have an abundance of food and an abundance of options. This does, however, give us just a taste of what life is like elsewhere on the planet, though. Appreciate that. Appreciate how good you’ve had it your whole life. Hell, appreciate how good you have it now because it could get a whole lot worse.

Also appreciate how interesting this time is. We are experiencing something that no human alive has experienced.  Yes, some of the potential scenarios are frightening. But it’s also astoundingly interesting and if we return to a “normal,” this will be an interesting time to have lived through. And if we don’t return to normal? We get to witness, first-hand, a fundamental shift in humanity!

Don’t stop preparing

Sure, over the next months I’ll be digging into my preps a little bit. Just don’t forget that just because “the big one” has hit, natural disasters, manmade disasters, and personal emergencies still aren’t on hold. Bad things still happen. Sure, we need to deal with one problem at a time, but now isn’t the time to consume your supplies down to nothing, or be crippled by some other emergency.

Since you can’t buy a year’s supply of toilet paper, shift focus to things you’ll need if things get worse. Everyone is focused on immediate needs right now (and speaking of, if you waited until last week to panic about ammo, shame on you! I recommended panicking almost two years ago when ammo was at bottom-dollar prices) and ignoring long-term needs. At the same time I’m not seeing runs on Coleman stoves, flashlights, fire extinguishers, or batteries.

Winter is coming

I guess I sort of mean that in the Game of Thrones sense, but more importantly, I mean it in the literal sense that we only have a few months before winter is upon us. We have no clue how long this will last, what will happen in the meantime, and what the second- and third-order effects will be. When there’s no letup and food shortages begin occurring in late September, it’s going to be too late to lay in supplies or plant a garden or think about sustainable systems of heating. Maybe start thinking in the long term now, instead of reacting to everything in the short term.

Take it seriously

People are all over the map with this thing. There’s some who are still in the “it’s just the flu” camp, and some who thing this is the next Black Plague. The fact is, we don’t know. Sure, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have recovered, but that’s an objectively bad barometer. I guarantee you Tom Hanks has access to better healthcare than you do. He probably has access to better healthcare than the leaders of most countries. Sure, “a lot of people” have cases that aren’t that severe. But don’t let that overshadow the “lot of people” who have died, or are only alive because of six days on a medically-induced coma and an intubation.

Here are some other things to think about: the coronavirus is a mutation of an animal virus that has found a host in humans. There are well under a half-million cases (at time of writing) of this disease in the entirety of human history. We don’t yet know if an infection conveys immunity. We have no idea what the long-term health effects of COVID-19 are because it has existed less than six months. We don’t really know anything much about it at all. Don’t live in fear, but don’t live in the naïveté, either.

Embrace the Hedonic Treadmill

A lot of people are worried about the financial and economic impacts of COVID-19. Maybe we could have prevented them, 75 years ago by demanding our government actually save up to buy the things it needed (you know, like every single one of your parents probably taught you?) instead of making crippling debt the backbone of our financial system, but that ship sailed long, long ago. Many are also afraid that the case fatality rates are much higher than advertised. . . and on and on. This is an environment that is ideally suited to maximum anxiety.

Mostly we’re all afraid of change – the great unknown of what tomorrow might look like. I would like to offer just a bit of encouragement, via the Hedonic Treadmill. The Hedonic Treadmill states that no matter what happens – you lose your legs or win the lottery – you undergo a period of adjustment, after which you don’t end up being appreciably happier or sadder than you were before. Once you’ve adapted you end up back roughly at your default level of happiness. Whatever comes, we’ll adapt. There will be moments of pleasure and joy, moments of pain and sadness, and a lot of moments of mundane normality. You know, kind of like it was two weeks ago.

Don’t let that stop you from preparing. Let it give you a sense of purpose, a drive, motivation.

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