Life is all about risks, I’m told. We take personal risks at managed points in our life — going off to college, changing jobs, asking someone out for the first time. We get to decide these for ourselves, largely. Sometimes, we don’t get to choose. With COVID, we have all had to manage a little more involuntary risk than we would like, whether you are a double-masked jogger in Boston Common, or fully embracing the whatever-the-fuckery of Texas. Regardless of how we are choosing to ride out the pandemic, we’ve all had to formulate a position on our safety that we’ve likely never had to ponder. I’ve certainly given mine some thought.
We’re all preoccupied with it. I get a lot of unsolicited sales emails, and many of them start with some variant of this: “I hope you are staying safe in these uncertain/troubling/souls-of-men-trying times.”
Let me assure you, dear Account Director, my safety is not a concern. After five decades of continuous service on this planet, I have achieved optimal safety. And after a Year of Living Dangerlessly, I’ve come to appreciate what a gift that has been.
Our culture celebrates risk. We are often presented with Captains Of Industry who fail fast, learn from their mistakes, and dare greatly. As the Earl of Montrose proclaimed in the 17th century,
“He either fears his fate too much,
Or his desserts are small,
Who dares not put it to the touch,
To win or lose it all!”
Well, my desserts were smaller in 2020. Literally. I lost 15 pounds by the end of a year, after an early binge of attempting to defeat coronavirus with calories that was shockingly ineffective. I’m not going to lie here — for the first six months of quarantine, I struggled just like everyone else. My life has been built around a relentless travel schedule for 20 years, and all of a sudden that baggage carousel ground to a halt. Business travel and events went away overnight. Vacations were canceled. Eventually, we stopped eating out anywhere, regardless of precautions or local policy. I wasn’t able to see my son as much. Quarantine sucked. Sucks. It’s still a fact of life for us. One of the invisible inequities of this virus (but…