It finally happened. Two years and nine months after the start of the pandemic, I finally got COVID. This comes as a relief in a strange way. I missed it when it ran through our house last year. When a coworker asked if I ever got it, I felt embarrassed when I told him no. Now, I can include myself in the ranks of my fellow Americans who got visited by COVID.
But since I’m fully vaccinated and double boosted, COVID feels more like a nasty cold so far. I haven’t lost my smell and taste. I haven’t run up a fever. My oxygen levels are normal. I feel congested, tired, and achy. I self-isolate and wear a mask when I’m up and around. (I will probably wear a mask for the rest of cold and flu season.) If I had gotten COVID at the beginning of the pandemic before vaccines were available, and I was still overweight, my outcome would have been much different. Because I listened to medical experts, focused on my health, and got vaccinated when I was able, I avoided the worst consequences of the pandemic.
That is what I learned in 2022: we experience the outcome of our choices.
We had plenty of examples of people who made bad choices and suffered the consequences. If you buy a social media network to stroke your ego and share your bad takes on issues, don’t be surprised when your net worth goes down and people cancel orders for your other products. If you express hideous beliefs, don’t be surprised when you lose sponsors and people stop listening to your music. If you’ve spent your whole life cheating others and carrying on like a six-year-old in a septuagenarian’s body, don’t be surprised when you run out of second chances and the consequences finally come due.
But we’ve also seen the positive outcomes of good choices.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy could have loaded up his suitcases with cash and fled the country as the Russians bore down on Kyiv. Instead, he chose to stay and fight along with his fellow citizens. Not only did he save Ukraine, he unified and expanded NATO, boosted the cause of democracy, and is widely regarded as a hero.
The World Cup at Qatar resulted from many bad choices. But fans around the world admired the manners and cleanliness of the Japanese team and its fans and the grit of Morocco.
Close to home, we were blessed with the outcome of good choices. By volunteering to moderate panel discussions at Indie Author Day, I was able to moderate panels at Loscon. By working hard, my son earned his Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) certification.
Good choices don’t always guarantee good outcomes. I did everything to stay healthy and still caught COVID. Japan and Morocco played hard but still lost. But making good choices helps you avoid the worst consequences. At least, you have the satisfaction and self-respect that comes from doing the right thing and staying true to your values.
This past year reminded us that we’re the outcome of our choices, both good and bad. It behooves us to make good choices.