“These are the times that try men’s souls.”  Thomas Paine’s famous – if chauvinistic – words.  He was contending with a war, while we, of course, are struggling with a pandemic.

Actually we also have a war.  It might be called the Battle of the Masks. Increasingly I find we’re divided into two very hostile groups: those who believe  their best way of surviving is to follow CDC guidelines and mask up, versus those who refuse to mask because they claim it takes away their “freedom .”

The latter is what I had to listen to the other day when I was confined to a chair for a haircut. Since the hairdresser was wielding the scissors, I refrained from answering when he flung his “freedom” line at me, along with the assertion that “wearing a mask is worse than having Covid.” I hope he’s never put to the test.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say, yes, I am a masker. I put on a KN95 whenever I’m going to be among other people indoors. I also confess to  being vaccinated and boosted twice. Though I’ve been accused of  being a coward,  I unwaveringly stand by these decisions.

But  (why is there inevitably a “but” in every decision?)  I realize  that I have become too isolated. I don’t eat indoors (except in my own home). I have limited any travel to the point of near zero. But I wonder if I am paying too high a price for protecting what’s left of my fragmented life.

I discussed this with a candid Long Island woman, Analee Sternberg. She admits to paralyzing fear the first year of the pandemic.It kept  this sociable, travel-loving woman home most of the time. But this year Analee made a  pivotal decision. “I wanted my quality of life back,” she says. “I weighed  the gains against the risks  and arrived at what I feel is the best equation.”  Her “equation” included vaccinations and booster shots. She then went on a trip to Las Vegas,  “with trepidation” she admits. She remained healthy and currently dines  out and goes to concerts and shows – carefully masked. “My husband and I are often  the only ones wearing masks, but we have to do what’s right for us.” Still, Analee stops short of  going on a cruise, her favorite form of vacation in B.C. times (Before Covid). “A cruise doesn’t fit my risk-ratio,” she says.

I am preparing to fly to Colorado to visit my family.  Like Analee  I will pack a lot of trepidation baggage, along with prayers. I will also travel masked, not only for my own sake but for the health of those around me.  I believe we each must decide  our own level of risk-taking, while accepting the sane guidelines we have been given. And to do this with respect for those who make other choices.


BOOKS: COME AND  GO – available through, WIDOW’S WALK –; TURNING TOWARD TOMORROW –, TEN WOMEN OF VALOR and ROLE PLAY- available through and; also Amazon Kindle.

thers’ choices.

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