We’re all stressed…

I get that. For Americans with any empathy at all, the last year has been a hard one, as they listened to the medical professionals and stayed home, wore masks, and cared about others, especially when other folks with no humanity at all threw fits about personal freedom and spread disease everywhere.

I do not have sympathy when those folks catch it, by the way. By now we know what causes it and how to stay safe. Not everyone can be safe, because they have jobs that cannot be done from home, unlike science fiction writers and middle managers.

So they have to deal with folks. Bad folks. People willing to put total strangers at risk.


I’ll talk about my real feelings for those folks elsewhere. Today I want to talk about stress. Your stress.

I have noticed that most people seem to be approaching their breaking point (again?) right about now. Staying home all the time instead of spending afternoons in a coffee shop, or shopping, or just visiting friends.

A lot of my friends these days exist online. Many of them are people I’ve never actually met in the flesh, but I still consider them friends. I have listened to their troubles and their victories. I have cheered for them and hurt with them.

And I’ve noticed some changes that probably warrant talking about.

When folks get stressed, their behavior changes. I was raised in an environment where I withdraw in the face of verbal or emotional abuse. I explained it an internet friend the other day as being willing to be pushed backwards off the table rather than fight someone. I meant to him that if you come after me and I don’t like you, I’ll just walk away. Its only when I feel personally threatened that you’ll see the dark side of me. I buried him pretty good a long time ago, but a few folks remember.

As the old saying goes from a book I enjoyed a long time ago: “Oh, I understand evil, Mistress. I’ve BEEN evil.”

I have done a lot of things I feel bad about from my younger days (call it prior to moving to Seattle in ‘97 as a safe rounding spot. Close enough). But I don’t have to fight every quarrel some dipshit wants to bring to my door. You don’t either, but a lot of folks have been in survival mode for so long now that they have kinda forgotten that.

Stress for many people turns into aggression. I get that. I’ve taken to just doing the whole 30-days-snoozing thing on social media for certain folks when they get wound up, after I spent 2020 just unfriending and blocking people when they got unruly. Total strangers, even, when I saw them posting something on somebody else’s wall that convinced me that they had nothing useful to ever say to me. I’m sure I’ve eliminated a few business and career opportunities that way, but my soul is worth more than your money.

But the aggression isn’t always a useful reaction. Its the fight-or-flight instinct. I get that. Hard-wired.

You’ve been running scared for a long time and sometimes think that you are suddenly cornered, wherein you need to come out biting and screaming.

You don’t. Everyone else is in the same boat, ninety-nine percent of the time. They are just as stressed, and not reading emotional language well. Nobody is.

Take a deep breath. Remember that your real friends won’t care if you take a few personal days. If you drop off the face of the earth for a week. I have a friend that I have not seen in the flesh in almost a decade, and that was breakfast as I was driving through Wichita in 2012. (I think. Don’t quote me on dates, Bob.) Prior to that, I last saw him in 1996. Lost track of him more than once over the decades, and worked to find him again each time.

You could do that in the old days. Just disappear. I did it twice. Harder now.

But he and I send each other random emails and Buckaroo Banzai jokes every once in a blue moon. You don’t have to be everything to everyone, every minute of the day. Remember that.


Breathe out, and then in. Let some of that crazy bleed off. You don’t need it.

We are at a point where you know people who have gotten the vaccine. When you can see a light in the distance, marking the point where you’ll be able to hug a random stranger without being afraid that one of you will end up dead or facing medical bankruptcy. Where you’ll walk in the open air without fear.

I expect it will be summer. We’re busy catching up with people now, and by the hot days most of the people who want to be safe will have gotten it. Plague rats will continue to demand the freedom to sicken populations because they have no empathy for their fellow humans, and I cannot do anything about that except avoid them.

My plan is to excise those people from my existence, because they are simply too dangerous to know. Certainly to hang out with, because they don’t see not-killing other people as a cost worth bearing.

You should also let them go. Metaphorically kiss them on both cheeks from a socially distant vista. Maybe electronically.

But let them go. You cannot help them. You can only help yourself to be better tomorrow than you were today. To take care of yourself, because it will be over soon and you can relax.

Then you can breathe.

And fly…