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April 4th, 2020

Keeping An Open Mind About It

After the heart attack, the cardiologist told me it was normal to be worried that every tiny little twitch and odd feeling in my chest was a precursor to another one. Everyone feels that way he said.

So now we have a plague virus that in some ways acts initially like a cold or flu. And every little sneeze, runny nose, dryness of throat and cough, makes you wonder…is this it? And oh by the way, it’s allergy season here in lovely central Maryland.

Also, I was informed recently that one or more of my daily heart meds can cause dry coughs as a side effect.

I keep thinking these days more than others about something I read long ago in one of Bill Mauldin’s books. He’s one of my heros of the political cartoon form, served in WWII and is known most of all for his Willie and Joe cartoons. I can’t find the exact passage just now, but he related how during his service in WWII he’d asked an infantryman once how he handled the constant stress of being on the front line and knowing he might take a bullet at any moment. The man said the trick was keeping an open mind about it. He told Mauldin that if you became certain you were going to die, or certain you would make it out alive, you’d probably end up doing something stupid and then getting yourself killed and maybe everyone around you too.

So…that advice from a man in the worst sort of harm’s way, keeping an open mind about it, keeps tapping me on the shoulder whenever I start getting anxious about anything. It may seem strange, but it’s what I kept in mind way back when I was interviewing for my first real job as a software developer for Baltimore Gas and Electric way back when. I had no degree and no expectation that it would amount to anything at all. Surely there were lots of other better qualified people than I competing for this position. But I went through with it keeping an open mind about it, and to my complete surprise it paid off. And now here I am.

Keeping an open mind about it every cough, every runny nose, every sneeze. It is allergy season after all. There is too much uncertainty now, but there are things the experts generally agree work and are preventative. Those recommendations keep getting updated so we have to keep paying attention to the latest updates. Just don’t get fatalistic about it in either direction. That isn’t helpful to you or anyone else.

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