Saturday, May 02, 2009

Viral Fear

Swine flu. It's in every conversation, on every mind, in every newscast. Every half day, the CDC adds states to their list of confirmed cases and updates their latest recommendations. New Mexico is not yet on the list, but I have no doubt that will change, and soon. We have several suspected cases, and after all, Mexico is our very near neighbor. Lots of travel back and forth. Just a matter of time.

Meanwhile, there's a second pandemic, a worldwide infection of that most resistant of viruses, fear.

"How scared should I be?" people ask me. Interesting question. Fear, although occasionally useful for motivating us to do something important, like get out of the way of a speeding truck, usually does more harm than good. Fear causes you to lose sleep, to get bellyaches and headaches, to get distracted from your responsibilities and your happiness. Fear is living in the future, and who knows if that future will ever materialize the way your fantasy has painted it?

I don't recommend stirring up fear, in yourself or anyone else. How scared should you be? Not scared. Responsibly behaving so as to avoid catching the swine flu, sure. Staying informed about the disease and the latest recommendations, absolutely. But there's no point in worrying about a potential future catastrophe. You're more likely to get killed in a car wreck than die of swine flu. So pay attention when you cross the road. Pay attention to your life, right now, in this moment. As one of my favorite authors says, we only have moments to live! One at a time.


muse said...

thanks for this peg- i would agree that fear is the real pandemic here.

Margie said...

I also agree that "fear is living in the future" - an avoidance of the present. Probably good advice to stop worrying about a lot of things we have no control over and concentrate on the the present we can do something about. Thanks for this moment.

Peg Spencer said...

Muse - as it is turning out, H1N1 isn't such a big deal after all. Imagine all that energy and time wasted on fear!

Margie - thanks for visiting and commenting. Worry sure isn't worth much, is it? Hope you have a worry-free hour today (I was going to say a worry-free day, but I don't think that is possible! Not for me, anyway.)

Margie said...

I understand the something good has come of this fear. There has been an increase in people actually washing their hands!

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