Shortly before my departure from my church last year, I asked for counsel from a good friend about this decision. She suggested I make a sign that said “choose health,” put it somewhere I’d see it frequently, and follow its advice. In that context, it meant prioritizing my mental health over the demands of a toxic congregation.
Now, as I’m practicing social distancing — working from home, living with just my cat, going out only as needed — “choose health” has a very different meaning.
It’s a public duty. Flattening the curve is the only way to keep the spread of Covid-19 from overwhelming our hospitals and other medical facilities — there are only so many ventilators to go around. By slowing the spread of the disease, we are all doing our part to save lives later.
While I would survive coming down with Covid-19 as I’m young and healthy, I don’t want my parents catching it, nor my immuno-suppressed friends, nor anyone else to whom it would be fatal.
Choosing health also means self-care so I can last the duration. It was fortunate that I began pursuing Stoicism more seriously earlier this year, as the Stoics have great advice on facing what seems unfathomable: the Dichotomy of Control. “Some things are within our power, and some things are not.” So I focus on what I can control (washing my hands correctly, not stockpiling what I don’t need, limiting exposure) and not what I can’t (everything else).
So, choose health. Choose health for you, your family and friends, and for humanity.