I’ve had enough of watching everybody freak out. I’ve had enough of talking heads on TV, telling us that the world is crumbling around us. I’ve had enough of wild-eyed toilet paper fiends and bare shelves at the grocery store. If I don’t get myself away from it right this minute, then I’m going to go nuts too.
So I’m going fishing. Or maybe I’ll go out in the woods and count squirrels. That would be good. I’ll be too busy feeling for sheepshead bites or stalking fluffy-tailed rodents to check headlines or Facebook’s incessant mindless chatter on my phone. I’ll be focused on what’s happening in front of me, instead of what might or might not be happening at Publix, on Wall Street or in Italy.
Humans are social animals, a trait we inherited from our ape ancestors. Have you ever seen what happens when a troop of chimpanzees crosses paths with something new? They look at the new thing, then right away, they all look at the other chimps. They can’t decide how to react until they see other troop members react. Sometimes a bold chimp will show no fear and the others follow his lead. Sometimes one gets too scared and runs away, and the rest scatter too.
Here’s the screwy part: It doesn’t matter if the new thing is a hissing viper or a teddy bear. They don’t react to the actual danger level — they react to each other’s reactions.
We are a lot more like those chimps than most of us are willing to admit. All of us are subject to the same follow-the-crowd mentality. When your mom asked if you would jump off a bridge if everybody else was doing it, you both knew deep down that the answer was probably yes. Peer pressure doesn’t end when you graduate. It’s for life.
But we’re not chimpanzees. Our brains are much more evolved. We have higher thinking and logic processing. When confronted with a crisis, we are able to respond to it in ways that our instinct-based cousins are not — but we must choose to do so. Thus, my solution.
We are being asked to not gather in large groups. That’s perfect for going outdoors, where large groups usually spoil the fun anyhow. Going out solo or with a few carefully selected companions is the right way to spend time in the woods or on the water. Call it social distancing if you like, but it’s on our terms.
Besides, we need the distraction. For most of us, time spent outdoors is our release, our therapy, our way of making sense of the world. We need that right now, and plenty of it, because the world sure isn’t making much sense at the moment.
So, what’s it going to be? Are you going to bask in the soul-killing glow of CNN and Fox News, or are you deciding whether to fish Turtle Bay or the Power Poles reef? Are you going to sit at home and share viral virus stories on social media, or would you rather take a hike around the Webb WMA?
It’s a simple choice: Are you going to be miserable, or are you going to live your life? I know which one I’m picking.
Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or Publisher@WaterLineWeekly.com.