The Best Thing We Can Do Right Now Is Nothing

Updated: Oct 10, 2020

Not all heroes wear capes. Some wear pajamas and #StayHome.

I thought this visual might help make it clear why each of our actions matter to everyone. You may be the only thing standing between someone with coronavirus (whether they appear to be sick yet or not) and countless others who could potentially be infected with it and then spread it to the various lines of “dominoes” in their lives, some of whom will be very vulnerable to it.

So if you step aside by staying home instead of going to that party or restaurant or concert, etc., and get out of the way of the first domino, then it won’t set off a chain reaction potentially affecting you and others you come into contact with and then others they come into contact with, etc.

I’m all for looking fear in the face and saying, “You can’t scare me! We need to live life!” However, I’m also all for looking at the facts and acknowledging that there will be more opportunities for those gatherings in the future. And more of us will have those opportunities if we all do what we can to protect one another, especially the most vulnerable among us.

It may seem silly or like an overreaction, and we may feel safe now. We may feel like our health care system is too great to be overwhelmed. Unfortunately, all the numbers say otherwise. People in the countries just days and weeks ahead of us have been shouting from the rooftops trying to get us to heed their warnings about how imperative it is that we act now. Not a day or two from now when it’s clearly the right thing to do. Now.

Staying home as much as possible is their best advice to us for how to flatten the curve of those needing hospitalizations so as to not overwhelm our hospitals and health care workers in one huge wave.

And it’s so easy to do. It’s literally the most passive action we could possibly take—to just stay home, not get dressed, and watch Netflix to our hearts’ content.

We may never be able to measure the number of people we saved by not placing ourselves in the line of dominoes. (People like your friend’s boss’s wife who has a pulmonary condition or your kid’s best friend’s grandmother who is 82...or even a stranger who has a stroke or gets in a car accident three weeks from now when the hospitals could be overcrowded and the doctors and nurses are triaging patients based on who is most young and healthy and likely to make it.)

But unfortunately, we may be able to measure the number we did not save if we don’t commit to staying home as much as possible from this point forward. (Of course we are not responsible for what a virus does to us. But we are responsible for doing whatever small things are within our control that we can to mitigate its spread.)

A phrase my sister loves that I’ve come to adopt in my life as well is, “We are all doing the best that we can with the information that we have at the time.” I think it’s super compassionate, and I remind myself of it several times a day.

When it comes to the current situation, we all have access to the same information. The experts and people in other greatly affected countries have made it clear what our collective “best” looks like—staying home and spending some quality time with ourselves and our closest loved ones.

And of course not everyone has the luxury to stay at home to work, and some of us may need to travel from one place to another to care for a loved one or go to the grocery store to get essentials, etc. And some people of course need to continue making money and selflessly serving others, and the world is grateful for them. There are always completely reasonable and admirable exceptions. But for every one of us who can stay home, we should. Because then that’s fewer people those who truly need to be out and about have to worry about interacting with.

I’m not trying to drum up fear. I don’t think that’s productive. I’m just trying to do my part to encourage something that I think we’ll all be so grateful we did together—separately, of course.

I am a textbook extravert and love people and socializing and connecting more than anything in the whole world. And it’s because I so value people and relationships that I’m choosing to stay home for as long as I can until we learn whether another option is better.

Luckily we have never lived in a better time to be quarantined while still staying connected with others via social media, text messaging, and video conference calls. I plan to take advantage of all those things and hope you do, too!

I may not have gotten every word of this right. And my intention is not to brag that I’m staying home (because, honestly, it’s pretty easy to do, though I empathize with the fact that it may not be for everyone). I also do not want to cause anyone to panic or feel judged if they have not made every effort to stay home as much as possible yet.

Personally, I’ve been worried thinking maybe we should be doing this for a while, and yet I still kept going about life like I thought I should until a few days ago because I didn’t want to seem like an alarmist. So I just felt compelled to offer what I hope is a clear or comforting voice in a time that feels very anxious, confusing, and lacking in clarity or control. I love you.

Let’s all love each other. And let’s all show that love by staying far, far away from one another for this brief moment in time. ❤️

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