Balancing Act

If you live with your family, you probably already know that life is often a balancing act.  You want to do (or have) certain things, for yourself — things that won’t benefit anyone but you.  But making sure your family is happy and thriving, as a whole, often includes compromise or sacrifice from the individual family members.  For instance, you may need to give up something you really want, in order for this year’s family vacation to be wonderful and special for everyone.

I’ve noticed a similar balancing act in the age of COVID.  I’m now well-protected, since I’ve already gotten both of my vaccination shots.  But I also know that the true goal is still “herd immunity” — protecting all of us, not just myself.  The whole world.

The herd immunity story goes something like this.  As long as the virus continues to spread, there will be occasional mutations.  And sometimes a new mutant strain (B.1.1.7, for example) may be deadlier and more easily transmissible than the earlier strains.  As the numerous coronavirus strains continue to spread among us, this thinking goes, inevitably a new mutant strain will arise that will be impervious to our current vaccines.  To prevent that from happening, we need most of us to get vaccinated in the next month or two — 80% of us, maybe? — so that all the existing strains can no longer find vulnerable hosts in which to reproduce.  And then they’ll all starve to death, and COVID-19 will no longer threaten us.  Which will also benefit me personally — I’ll be able to take off my mask, and worry a lot less.

In the meantime, I’ll continue wearing my mask whenever I’m with people who have not yet been vaccinated.  I know that I’m now well-protected, with only a 5% chance of getting COVID.  Even if I do, the symptoms will most likely be extremely mild.  I may not even realize that I’ve gotten the virus.  However — and this is where concern for the whole group comes back in — there is still a reasonable chance that I could get infected and then unknowingly infect someone else.  Someone who hasn’t been vaccinated yet.  Someone who could get very sick.  Or even die.  I need to remember that wearing my mask is primarily to protect other people from me, not the other way around.  Whatever I can do to help slow down the spread, the better off all of us will be.

On a separate but related subject, last week my older brother and his wife received $2,800, from the latest round of stimulus payments.  They’re not wealthy, by any definition.  They’re retired now, and living very comfortably.  They suffered no financial hardship at all over the past 13 months.  They’re doing fine.  They don’t need the $2,800.

My brother’s wife has already written and mailed off a handful of checks.  Donations to the local food bank, and to a nearby soup kitchen, and to “Feeding America” and “Meals On Wheels.”  They’re donating the entire $2,800.  Just like they did with the entire $2,400 they received last April, and the $1,200 they received 3 months ago.  They picked up the ball and ran with it, and helped finish the job that the government started.

I’ve also heard from several clients who did the exact same thing.  Redirecting stimulus money to people and places where it’s truly needed.  I love it.  And all it takes is shifting my focus away from myself and onto the group, and then a little rebalancing.