Roger Marolt: Buy more time and less toilet paper
As has been pointed out many times, none of us are getting out of here alive. I can’t go so far as to say this is a comforting thought, but it does sort of take the fear out of death for me. Not completely, but it smooths the rough edges, no doubt.
There really is no such thing as saving a life. We describe it as that, but sparing someone from an early demise is only buying more time. That’s not a bad thing, but it is a set-up for something else down the road. I think it’s best not to be surprised by this.
I am thinking more about death during the pandemic. That’s what it comes down to, right? It’s what separates this virus from the seasonal flu. If contracting this pathogen was only about feeling lousy for a couple of weeks, who’s going to give up a night on the town, taking a vacation, or going to the gym to avoid it? With a normal case of the crud it’s easy to thoughtlessly carry on by chasing a couple of Tylenol with a shot of Dayquil to mask the symptoms. At the office this brand of toughness was formerly considered the mark of a “team player.” Death is the game-changer that now puts that player on waivers.
There is a big difference between something that sucks and something that sucks the life out of you. We have a higher chance of dying from this bug than most others that annually burrow into our nasal cavities. How we process this risk depend a lot on our fear of the unmasked Grim Reaper: Do we quietly give him six feet or challenge him to a wood chopping contest?
I am not certain how afraid of death I am. There was the time we ditched our skis at the top of the snowfield and climbed to the summit of Castle Peak in our ski boots. It was a stupid idea so, when we spotted a shortcut through a steep couloir on the way down, we took it. We saved a bunch of time until it cliffed out, 50 feet above our skis. We couldn’t climb back out in our ski boots and jumping would have dog-eared our last chapter. With no remotely decent solution, we climbed out in our bare feet. I was scared of death then.
Then there was the time in Alaska when I stood on the glacier floor when a monstrous hanging glacier calved off 3,000 feet directly above. It was certain death a mere minute away. I felt perfect calmness. I said a prayer and waited, like it was a bus pulling up to take me to the ballgame. In the end, a giant hidden crevasse swallowed the massive wave of pulverized ice a hundred feet in front of us. Only a refreshing breeze and a dusting of snow washed over us.
I don’t mean to make light of death. It’s for lack of practice expressing my thoughts on the matter. It’s not polite dinner talk. We have all lost loved ones. I have been crushed, devastated, and painfully saddened by death. And still, looking back at these events for which there is no do-over, I will tell you that I wouldn’t bring any of them back, even if I could. You can console me by telling me they are in a better place and I won’t think you are giving my grief the short shrift. I believe it. Yes, you can blame this on religion. And, yes, I am using it as a crutch. But, it works for me and I’ll continue to limp through life leaning on it rather than suffer needlessly without.
It’s not like I want to leave here in the eighth inning to beat the traffic. I’d like to stick around to watch the players shake hands after the final pitch, no matter how the game comes out. But, if I get conked on the head by a foul ball before then, I figure it’s just a risk of sitting in the box seats close to the action.
Likewise, if I catch a case of the coronavirus, I am not going to stomp around blaming someone for giving it to me, even if it kills me. At the same time, I don’t want to be the one to give it to someone else. I don’t need that on my conscience; there’s hardly the room. Therefore, I will remain cautious and hunker down appropriately. I feel it’s the most I can do to suffer the least.
Roger Marolt hopes life returns to normal soon … as if it ever has been. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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