Disproportionately, I had my most consistent year ever. Most of my clients had their most consistent year ever. A lot of people had their best fitness breakthroughs of all time. In large part, we and our loved ones just didn’t get sick for the first 12 month period in history. To lucky people and those without small children, it might have seemed more challenging to wrestle with unwanted change; and maybe they didn’t even notice how much more consistent they could be while distracted by all the newness. But for those with the strength to embrace challenge, it was BY FAR the most consistent 12 months.
In large part, I pin it on the American spirit and the warrior spirit. True Americans always loved their personal space. Now, they actually abided by it. The strongest warriors have always donned face coverings. Now, everyone could.
For all of human history, the mask was the symbol of the badass. We see iconography of covered faces and our very first thought is “warrior.” When it isn’t done with material, it’s done with blood and paint. The mask means “battle.” Look closely at pottery and depictions of people without masks in the ancient world. Instantly, you know what the unmasked person is: not a warrior; not a fighter; always soft; often a slave.
As facial recognition software technology progressed in the past 10 years, tyrannical governments worked to ban masks (https://www.aclu.org/.../americas-mask-bans-in-the-age.../), because unmasked people are easy to track, identify, prosecute, control. Irrevocably, the mask is the hallmark of the uncontrolled individual. As the tech gets even better, only the free person will wear a mask. Slaves of the state won’t. Privacy and anonymity are the strongest safeguards for a free people, arguably for a society. And any mask works toward that libertarian ideal. Companies and overbearing governments which track your every move with facial recognition software want to BAN masks and used to BAN masks and WILL BAN masks again:
Knights, Spartans, warriors, special ops, ninjas, and the American cowboy were being weak when they covered their faces? William Wallace was scared to show his bare face on the battle field? Bandits and bank robbers are compliant sheep? Protestors who confront oppressive regimes are living in fear? SWAT teams are docile betas? Steel workers are soft? And health care workers are overcautious fools?
Up until March of 2020, a number of things were universally true: 1. badasses wear masks; 2. filtration works; 3. anonymity is freedom; and 4. personal space is great.
1. Athletes took pride in training with masks. It meant you were tough as hell. Think of one of the toughest situations on earth, firefighters going into a burning building, and you can't even picture it without masks and breathing apparatus.
2. Put any filter in front of particulates, and you’ll reduce them by some degree. Think of those firefighters again. Most smoke particulates clock in between 0.03 and 1.0 microns. All of us just plainly accepted that a face covering could be effective at blocking some of the smoke. The coronavirus diameters range from 0.8 to 2.0 microns, significantly larger than most smoke. Never mind that they travel on droplets (unlike smoke) which are orders of magnitude larger. However, this subculture which rose up last year convinced itself that filters couldn't block the coronavirus. Concurrently, it developed a fear that oxygen is restricted through masks. Oxygen is 0.0005 microns, or, to be precise, four thousand times smaller than coronavirus particulates, and a few hundred-thousand to a million times smaller than droplets.
3. Restrictive governments were working to outlaw masks in public. All of us just plainly accepted that the direction of technology is going increasingly toward the nanny-state. One of the only ways you're going to thwart that oppressive inclination of companies and governments is face coverings. Major conflicts rose up all around the world prior to March 2020, debating whether citizens would be allowed to don masks. Then March came; and people started begging to throw away this increasingly-needed freedom.
4. It was a freedom-loving conservative value that no one needs to know your business, be in your space, or even breath on you. Americans liked their personal space, whether it was disliking someone sitting within six feet, or whether it was owning their own houses and yards, or even if it was just dreaming of moving out to the country and getting off the grid. Ever go on public transit in other countries? The rest of the world doesn’t get it. They like sharing bubbles. Americans don’t, or at least didn’t until March 2020. Every red-blooded American loved personal space.
No new data emerged. None. Nothing changed. Yet somehow, as the pandemic struck, some people shifted away from all of those universal truths. The month of March came, and all of a sudden they gravitated toward a totally new belief, a very odd subculture which came out of absolutely nowhere and continued to build in the past 12 months, completely disconnected from all of prior human history. Preceded by nothing, a cult-like coping mechanism to deal with uncertainty formed: fear masks; vilify masks; demand that filters magically become 100% effective or insist they’re worthless; demonize personal space and distancing; redefine the entirety of human society; and then pretend that pathological phobia of masking is toughness.
Personally, I don’t get it. I am not and never was afraid of Covid for my personal safety. But I also don’t even notice the tiny inconvenience of a mask on my face. I don’t have hyper-sensitive skin or intimacy issues which might drive someone to hate a covering so close to the face. I'm not sure if fear of masks is connected to insecurity or Napoleonic complexes; but I just don’t know of one physically large male who is the sole provider for his family and rejects all masking. The manliest dudes on earth never had an issue with masks. And since March of 2020, the only guys I've known who developed this completely newfound hatred of all masks are physically small, bachelors, trust fund babies, and/or carried by their wive's or partners' careers. Pandemic aside, if we can reduce incidence of OTHER colds and flus by even 5%, to me, some regular masking is probably worth it. Totalitarian regimes and technology are going nowhere but forward; so some masking sometimes in public aligns with conservative ideals of liberty. If we can lower risk for the most compromised and elderly among us, to me, it's no sacrifice of my lifestyle at all. It just means we’ll be more productive as fewer people have down days. I never cared for clueless and mannerless people invading my personal space beforehand. Still don’t. It’s a little too... european, if you catch my drift.
What did it take for people to have the most consistent year of their lives? They didn't have any attachment to “the way things used to be.” They made their peace with change. They didn't invent a brand new, negative, fantasy narrative about masks. They embraced both the American spirit and the warrior spirit. As I understand it, the warrior doesn’t whine and complain about newness or inconveniences. The warrior doesn’t avoid doing hard or uncomfortable things. The warrior doesn’t care about signaling his toughness. He doesn’t refuse a mask any more than he begs for one. He will wear it in battle. The slave won’t. That was always true. March 2020 didn’t change that. And as we continue going into the future, I can guarantee that people who can’t let go of the past will continue to make themselves suffer needlessly. Those with the strength to embrace change can have the most consistent and best year(s) of their lives.