Sun Star Bacolod
Eight weeks ago, I boldly ventured out of my cave for a longer walkabout. As you know, I was afflicted with FOGO (fear of going out) for quite some time.
I was scared to death of unnecessarily stepping out and inadvertently infecting the rest of my family with the dreaded virus. But I realized as the pandemic went from months to years that I actually had social needs, after all.
So, I decided to just do it. I set myself free — from the shackles of fear and anxiety. I found the audacity to hop on a plane. It didn’t help that I knew people who traveled came home with Covid. But you could say I was propelled by stronger forces — visas wasting away in my passport.
I spent three spectacular weeks in Spain marred only by the news that my 97-year-old father back home had caught Covid. But as he tested positive two days before I was to fly home and was already on the mend, I managed to control my stress levels and preserve my sanity.
Now that I’ve flown on a plane with hundreds of people, walked through airport terminals teeming with passengers, traveled through multiple cities with maskless populations, I can tell you quite frankly that the risk of getting infected with Covid when you travel is high.
Because when we travel far from home, we come into contact with all kinds of people.
The stubborn who buck airline regulations to don masks onboard except when eating. The thoughtless who refuse to mask up in enclosed spaces even as they erupt into fits of coughing and sneezing. The free who believe they are entitled to do as they please regardless of the consequences.
I did not get sick but I don’t believe I did not come into contact with the virus while traveling.
My father had not stepped out of the house. No one got sick before and after him. Everyone around him is fully vaccinated and so is he. Obviously, he was infected by someone asymptomatic.
Blanket immunity from infection does not exist because of the variants. But clearly, immunity from symptoms exists. Vaccination works. But not all of us will be symptom-free and not all of us will recover from the virus.
Covid is clearly still here. And it now moves more stealthily among us because of widespread immunity through vaccination, prior infection(s) and exposure to the virus.
So, live your life as you see fit. Travel but know the risks. Mask up when appropriate. When unwell, isolate. Get the Covid-19 bivalent vaccine when it becomes available. Be thoughtful, compassionate and mindful.
The virus is moving towards becoming less deadly, more predictable. The worst, I hope, is behind us.
But let us move forward — never with complacence, always with caution. This will not be the last virus to upend our lives.
But for now, let’s savor the respite and live with a little less anxiety and a lot more joy.*