When I taught writing workshops in my former life, I often began with the quote from Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha. “Writing is good. Thinking is better. Cleverness is good. Patience is better.”
Thanks to my readers for patience since my last post. It’s been a tumultuous time. Highlights: I recently met someone who is convinced that Ivermectin cured them of Covid. I asked how that worked. The man replied, “Well, be careful with dosing, and then prepare for a lot of diarrhea. It cleaned me out, and then the Covid was gone.” Another great opportunity to display my marvelous poker face. I believe in learning from personal experience. And, it was his doctor who suggested Ivermectin. Inside, though, I felt shock at the story and compassion for him. His fear of Covid was palpable. He followed a doctor’s recommendation. What I think he does not know is that correlation is not causation.
Maybe the diarrhea lasted until the Covid symptoms went away. Perhaps his infection was mostly gastric. This happens much more than we would know from reading mainstream media. Maybe the Covid clearance simply occurred at the same time the intestinal flushing did, and the risk he took with his health was still just that: a true risk. The two things happened. What this man does not know, though, is that he has no idea if the Ivermectin caused his “cure” or just made something else happen in his body at the same time.
I’ve been out in public a little more — until the Omicron appearance. I’m pulling back again on outings. I learned, from some of these outings, that I can’t predict who tells me they’re glad I’m alive and well and who doesn’t. People who I thought didn’t know or didn’t particularly care, did know and do care; while people I thought did know and did care, don’t. Whatever the words said, the facial expression usually reveals what’s true. I haven’t let this bother me, but have simply noticed it. I’ve been around serious, mysterious illness much of my life in my own family. No one likes it, of course. And there’s some odd instinct that kicks in that makes people feel — not think — “If I hear too much of this, it will get me, too. If I learn too much, I’ll know more about what could happen to me. If I spend too much time with here, I’ll find out things I don’t want to know.” Then there’s the fear in the brain saying, “Oh, God, I hope she doesn’t ask me for anything. I’m so busy. My boss is a bitch. My marriage is so hard. I’m really, really busy. There are places that help sick people. aren’t there?”
If someone offers something, from a phone call to a trip to the store, then I know at some point down the road, I might be able to ask for a favor. I rarely ask without having heard the offer.
I’ve learned I have close friends who know every detail of my viral voyage who still are certain that the vaccine is dangerous, evil, a tracking device, or a hoax that involves crazy rich men. These are intelligent, kind people who have demonstrated true friendship to me. Yet my experience with Covid simply doesn’t “compute” for them with regard to vaccines, or even wearing masks in a crowd.
In these past two months, I’ve looked for work, done some editing and other writing, and last but not least, come to terms with the fact that sometimes illness causes a kind of revulsion in family members. During this holiday time, it’s become clear that I won’t see some people I love very much ever again. I drafted a letter to one family member yesterday. After six hours and typing sixteen pages, I realize there’s nothing else left to do, but to be silent and wait. The thinking in this case was more helpful than the writing itself, although the two are tightly bound together.
My takeaway from my time away from writing here is this: We are given information. We have, usually, an opportunity to think about it, study it, find other perspectives, investigate, and then we reach a conclusion. Often, once we reach a conclusion, we are ready to say, “I believe that ….” But, we have said or should have said, “I think that …” before we say, “I believe.”
The enormous, deadly conflict we are living through regarding the virus and vaccines and our future is caused largely by people receiving or gathering information who then go immediately into a belief state. Normal, healthy process is: 1) Information is transmitted. 2) Think about that information. 3) Decide what you believe. Abnormal (and easier) process is: 1) Information transmitted. 2) Decide what to believe. Do not stop to do the work of thinking. Simply believe.
We are made both divisive and vulnerable, not from thought, but from belief. Deprived of thinking, belief becomes monstrous. Saul Steinberg once wrote that the greatest danger he could think of was the idea of a six-month-old being the size of an adult.
I have to be extremely careful now. Those of us with autoimmune or other pre-existing conditions, those of us who have battled the Covid monster almost to the death know in our marrow how quickly we could die in a second round. We were much safer when size was not interpreted as maturity or interior growth, when repetition was not equated with knowledge, and when the lovely quilt of belief, a thing meant to warm and comfort, was not used to smother the living breath of thought.
Happy Holiday Time. Thank you for voyaging with me. Let’s have the best end-of-year vacation time possible. I’ll be back soon and hope to find you here, too. God Bless.