The COVID-19 dilemma: “To live or not to live?”

Have you happened to ask yourself any of the following questions in the past few months?

  • To visit my parents/grandparents/relatives or not?
  • To go back to the gym or not?
  • To send my kid(s) back to daycare/school or not?
  • To have some fun with friends or not?
  • To celebrate my birthday or not?
  • To attend a friend’s/relative’s wedding or not?
  • To book a holiday or not?
  • To go back to the office or not?

In the current pandemic situation, I notice I am asking myself these questions quite frequently, if not even a few times per day.

Actually every time I get an idea about how to get out of the routine by doing something fun or when I get an invitation for a social gathering, I start an internal debate whether that’s reasonable in the current pandemic circumstances.

And since this internal debate has been going on for more than five months now, I noticed that the above questions can be summarized by a single question:

To live or not to live?

I don’t remember having this dilemma before the lockdown in March when I would simply go out and live without thinking of the risks of all the possible diseases or accidents that might happen if I do so.

Now I notice how the fear of getting sick or contaminating others is making me think twice before I do what my heart desires.

As these fearful thoughts kept on bothering me. I spent some time analyzing where they are coming from and what could be the possible outcomes if I choose to live or not to live.

The origin of the COVID-19 dilemma

The origin of my fearful thoughts could be traced back to the news and my surroundings.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started that’s pretty much everything everyone has been talking about. Besides the constant news of the spreading of the disease and the amount of people who have been severely impacted, we have been bombarded with all kinds of measures that we need to incorporate in our daily lives in order to stay healthy and keep our loved ones safe. 

And if that was not enough and you finally decided to take a small risk and break the routine, there would be at least one person in your surroundings who would project his/her own fears on you by making a judgmental comment or giving you a judgemental look regarding your risky whatabouts. 

The possible outcomes

Now that it was clear that the fearful thoughts were not mine to begin with, I decided to at least make a deliberate choice about the way I will react to them.

In my thought process I came up with two possible outcomes:

  1. Not to live:
    • to avoid taking unnecessary risks and to limit my activities and social gatherings to a bare minimum in my attempt to avoid any possible contamination.
  2. To live:
    • to break the routine and do whatever I would have done before COVID-19 by taking all possible precautions and to accept the fact that sooner or later I or the people around me will get sick no matter how hard we try to avoid it.

Instead of letting others or the circumstances determine my response, I chose to live.

Because besides the fear of getting sick or not, there is another important variable that we need to take into consideration: regret.

If you think rationally, you get sick at least one time per year. By sick I mean having a cold, the flu, food poisoning, for example.

The risk of not catching a virus that spreads so easily and is so contagious any time in the future is probably close to zero. (Forgive my wild guess here, the above statement is not based on any academic research).

If you just think about it for a moment, what would you rate as worse:

to get sick and to have lived 

or 

to get sick and to not have lived?

For me personally there is no worse outcome than taking all possible precautions and isolation measures and getting sick after all.

Knowing that the chances are high that I or/and the people around me will get sick sooner or later, whenever that happens I would prefer to at least be able to look back and to have my memories of all the moments when I have chosen to live versus facing the bitter feeling of regret as an alternative.

What does it mean to live?

To me personally to live means to answer the following questions with “yes”:

  • To visit my parents/grandparents/relatives or not?
  • To go back to the gym or not?
  • To send my kid(s) back to daycare/school or not?
  • To have some fun with friends or not?
  • To celebrate my birthday or not?
  • To attend a friend’s/relative’s wedding or not?
  • To book a holiday or not?
  • To go back to the office or not?

Yes, I am aware that the above activities are not risk free. You may argue that they are not urgent or crucial either. 

But for me personally they are what I need to stay sane. To be able to enjoy the summer and to be able to say to myself that even if I die tomorrow (as a result of COVID-19 or not), at least I would have lived today.

What is in it for you?

Please, please, please do not take my words as a reason for you to go out there and start taking all possible risks in the most irresponsible ways.

I am not saying you should not be careful and take all possible precautions. Being courageous and having lust for life does not mean being irrational and irresponsible. 

It’s just that before we know it, the summer will be over, Christmas will come and with it this year will slip through our fingers without any possibility for us to catch up on the lost time in the future.

So we can stay at home and avoid any kind of human interaction or we can explore some activities which might feel at the edge in the current circumstances but they would at least give us some pleasure of living.

I am not trying to impose my way of thinking on you. 

Whatever you choose, just make sure that the final call is YOURS.

Stay positive, face your challenges, learn your life lessons, take care and stay healthy.

The credits for this article’s photo go to Albena Vasileva, Slavina Bacheva & Boryana Dineva. Thank you for being part of the idea generation and execution!

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