Hail Storm and Masks Outdoors 04/29/21

My mother stayed over for five days. It helped immensely, having an extra (willing) pair of hands to take care of the kiddo. We learned his patterns in that time. It’s not complicated: if he’s awake, we have about a 30 minute timer before he starts fussing for milk. The eyes open, get everything ready.

Last night, I was sitting in my chair playing Dark Souls. I’d made it Ash Lake, the lowermost point of the game. It’s a beach made of ash, as one might expect, this huge cavern with a hydra lurking in black water. I just ran through it, entered a Dragon Covenant, and warped out. Now I will head to the Tomb of the Giants.

Anyway, midway through my playing session, Mom and I heard a noise outside. It got louder and louder. I opened my front door, and it sounded like a freight train in the sky. This is typically a sign of a tornado. We didn’t hear any sirens, but we headed into the bathroom anyway, to wait it out in the tub. Baseball-size hail rocked the house, smashed out the back windows of our cars, knocked over trash cans. That kind of thing. What alarmed me was how fast it happened. Reading the news this morning, they had no warning of it. It just showed up and set about to fucking shit up.

Oklahoma weather can be frightening in that respect, although it’s important to understand the actual risk posed by these weather events. The media plays them up, of course, for the same reason the media plays up every freak scary thing that happens: to keep your attention. If you look at the actual stats, however, the mortality of tornadoes is almost non-existent. I think one person died from them last year.

A simple trick that I’ve done for years, because I grew up with an irrational fear of tornadoes, has been to look at the statistics. It helps to put everything in context. I did that to get over my fear of flying. That’s what I did with the v*rus as well, which seemed to annoy every person I came into contact with.

Unfortunately, however, we’re seeing exactly what I was afraid of seeing: people permanently damaged, too afraid to leave their house, fully vaccinated and still wearing masks outside (if you don’t understand the reason why this is completely insane, I’m sorry). There’s no concept of risk mitigation.

In this life there are things that can kill you, for sure. Freak events. Sometimes a bad virus makes its way through the population and kills many people. Sometimes a tornado picks your house up and drops it. Sometimes you get into a car accident. But we have to understand the risks, take the relevant precautions, and stick to the actual science of the thing. We can’t let our irrational fears ruin our lives and the lives of others.

So my recommendation would be the mildest of mild: go outside without a mask. Breathe in some air. Pass people at a safe distance. Move outside of your comfort zone a little bit. When you get home, allow the thoughts to come, the fears of contamination. Let those pass. They will. And over time, you’ll realize that you’re safe to be outside, where the sun kills the virus, where the wind carries it away, where you’re not close enough to anyone for long enough to develop any significant viral load. Double your chances if you’re vaxxed, let’s say.

Otherwise, you’re going to be stuck this way for the rest of your life. And while that makes me sad for you, it makes me even more fearful for my family and our future. It’s not a world that other people want to live in. There comes a time where we have to face our mental illnesses for the betterment of those around us. I spent the past year putting a mask on when I went grocery shopping or whatever, even though I didn’t believe it was helping. I did it out of some (misguided?) sense of civic duty. It was easy enough. How could it hurt? Now I’d ask the same small gesture in return.

If you got your vax, go outside without a mask. The smallest of things. It’s not going to hurt you.

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