You are going to die.
There, I’ve said it.
And yes, you might die from the coronavirus.
But it is highly unlikely.
What is much more likely to kill you is your fear of the coronavirus (or whatever latest thing there is to worry about.)
Even as the situation continues to worsen around the world: Statistically you are more likely to die this day by being hit by a car, having a heart attack or catching the flu.
Or, again, fear in general.
Let’s talk about it.
First, the numbers.
As of today, March 9th, in the United States: 1 in 556 people are killed by getting hit by a car. 1 out of 103 people die in car crashes. You have a 1 in 6 chance of of dying from heart disease. This flu season so far 16,000 people have died from influenza. Globally, 3,879 people have died of the coronavirus. Just to put this in perspective, 150,000 people die every day, with 2/3 of these deaths are from age-related causes.
To this date there have been 22 deaths in the United States from the coronavirus.Yes, this number will go up, but please understand the vast difference of what we fear we (or our beloveds) will die of vs. what we are really dying of.*
I want to share two metaphors with you, one on farming and one on poison oak. Stay with me and I’ll show how these two stories below are a form of medicine for the current (and not the last) virus scare and for the larger issue we are facing: runaway, epidemic fear.
Nourishing Your Soil (and soul)
In my book Big Freedom I share the important difference between conventional versus organic farming. In conventional farming, farmers use toxic pesticides, fungicides, mildicides, and herbicides to kill threats to their crops. The problem with this approach is that all these toxins accumulate and poison the soil, and the water, and the humans that consume the plants.
In organic farming, farmers put their energy into one main thing: feeding and nourishing the soil. If the soil is healthy, the plant is healthy. When a plant is healthy it naturally resists pests and mildews. Along with enriching the soil, organic farmers also use a variety of creative techniques and practices to protect their crops.
This connects to an intimate experience I had with poison oak when I was younger.
Respect vs Fear
After peeing too close to poison oak I suffered with an intensely itchy and painful rash in delicate places. Once I finally healed I found myself terrified of the little green plant, which grew abundantly where I lived. Since I spent a lot of time outside, I found myself worrying constantly about getting poison oak. One day the fear become so overwhelming, my desire to avoid poison oak so great, that I realized I had to do something or I was going to have to leave the home in the mountains that I loved. I sat down in front of a patch of poison oak and had a conversation with it.
“Hello, poison oak. We need to talk. I can’t live my life always running from you, constantly frightened of bumping into you. What can I do?”
And I heard poison oak share with me: “Respect.”
In that moment I felt a shift in the depths of my being. I didn’t need to fear poison oak, but I did need to respect its power and its place in the world.
Respect is understanding and being aware of something’s power and place and perspective. The poison oak isn’t out to get me, it is just being poison oak. It has it’s own power, and it has a place in the world. When I respect it, we can co-exist, and I can use it as a way to stay aware and awake, rather than as a way to get smaller and be afraid.
Fear usually comes from a story the mind is telling us about what might happen, usually not what is happening in this moment. Respect keeps us connected to our wits and resources; fear drains us of our energy and dampens our ability to see truth.
Now let’s look at a couple more facts
We live in a world filled with viruses, bacteria, mold, and other often invisible beings that we share space with. Many bacterias and molds are hugely beneficial or even life-giving to humans; others are deadly. Viruses range from the common cold to more deadly forms that are especially dangerous to those with weakened immune systems.
Unfortunately, because of conventional farming and our lack of nutrient-rich soil, due to an abundance of toxins in our environment, in addition to stress and the ways we often push ourselves, our immune systems are often compromised. Add this to new strains of viruses and bacterias that our doing their thing: evolving. This means we have to be more mindful and respectful. But we don’t need to be more fearful and panicked. That does not help you be stronger or more resistant; it actually impacts your immune system.
Your #1 priority should be not fearing something like the coronavirus, but learning how to respect it. Keep looking for facts rather than fears. Learn the best way to keep yourself healthy. And put your attention on feeding your own soil and nourishing your heart and body, rather than using fear and disaster mind to try and stay safe. The fear will only poison you and weaken your being, while respect and nourishing the soil of your immune system will strengthen your being.
If you have a compromised immune system, be extra careful. Listen to your body and gather data on to what you need to do at times of flu or virus outbreaks to support your physical well-being. Also, be responsible and respect that you can have a mild version of any virus and pass it on to someone who may not have the resources to fight it.
Simple tips to respect viruses
Use these tips as an awareness practice that you incorporate into your lifestyle. Do your best to:
Support your immune system, not just during health challenges but all the time.
Wash your hands thoroughly or use sanitizer
Wipe down your phone and hard surfaces regularly with disinfectant
Sneeze or cough into your elbow
If possible stay 1 meter from people who are coughing or sneezing
Don’t touch your face. Viruses are transmitted through your mouth, nose, and eyes
Don’t let yourself get stressed out by following every media story. Monitor yourself so you don’t get addicted to panic and fear.
Four more resources for you:
Pointedly funny truth
Clarity without drama
Words from the book, Dune. Creator of this fabulous meme unknown… If you’ve seen this before and know who created it let me know!