Of things some are in our power, and others are not.
Those words, which do not make perfect grammatical sense in modern English, come from noted philosopher Harry Styles. Wait, let me check the… sorry, it’s from the Enchiridion of Epictetus, an ancient manual of stoic wisdom.
I got to thinking about the concept as Tampa Bay “launched” “COVID-19” “vaccinations” this week for those 65 and older. Stoicism can be difficult to grasp, much like Florida’s distribution plan. We do not have time to read all the internet boards about (Stoicism/Florida government).
But one aspect of the former is this: focusing on what we can control.
The vaccine launch was marred with mayhem, websites crashed and phone lines jammed in Hillsborough and Pinellas. By Tuesday morning, websites were offline and seniors were told to call numbers that rang busy. Things were smoother in Pasco and Hernando. But in some places, absolute monsters created fake sites, leading seniors to believe they had spots when they didn’t. Please enjoy hell.
I joined the confused legions, sending my parents the link to sign up while explaining the link to sign up probably wouldn’t work. Just keep trying, I said, haha! It was the plot of 1944′s Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman. Yes, this will end with Charles Boyer tied to a chair.
Where were we? Ah, Stoicism. We can’t control what happens to us, only how we react to it. I will explain. First, please bear in mind that I got a C in philosophy at the University of South Florida. Class was held in an overflow movie theater at University Mall, and I was distracted by gum on the seats.
I caught enough to know this situation is infuriating. It could be life and death, and getting reliable information from the state has been like trying to destroy the One Ring inside Mount Doom. People are desperate, hospital and local government workers are exhausted and the rates of infection are out of hand.
Average folks have limited options. We can’t make the vaccine get to us faster. We can’t fling ourselves in front of medical professionals and declare, “MY BODY IS READY FOR THE SWEET NEEDLE.” Well, I suppose we can, but please don’t fling yourself at anyone.
Nor can we control what vaccine group we are in, be it essential worker or group “Forty-Eleven Xii Underpants Subset B,” between old-timey gas station attendants and jug-band musicians.
So what do we do? Resort to panic, blind rage, lots of screaming? No, no, not that. How ‘bout:
Create a system with a loved one to help make calls. Take breaks to walk whatever animal is nearest. Yes, your bearded dragon needs a stroll.
Wear a mask. Wash hands. Keep social distancing. Don’t go to sink-or-swim night in Ybor. Proceed, for now, as if no one is vaccinated.
Eat. Drink water. A hot tea, perhaps. People seem to like Bridgerton on Netflix.
Flip a table; just one. Make sure there is some kind of blanket on the floor so you don’t scratch the tile, thus fully taking control of your emotions.
Take the top bun off a cheeseburger, throw the rest at the wall and watch it slide down. This requires great self-discipline, as you have bravely not consumed the cheeseburger.
Laugh maniacally into the sky, curling each hand into a claw-like position. It helps if the fingernails are very sharp. Then point one of those wicked talons toward the phone and dial again. And again. And again.
Get Stephanie’s newsletter
For weekly bonus content and a look inside columns by Stephanie Hayes, sign up for the free Stephinitely newsletter.