Find the Health
drivin' and learnin'
Am just returning from a mental health sprint into the Rocky Mountains, a trip we wedged into the family schedule with the usual assistance of a couple of huuuuge driving days and The Dad’s willingness to engage the gas pedal with a deeply felt degree of force and commitment. We started from the south, through Durango and up to Molas Lake, and then worked our way up to Rocky Mountains National Park, a place you should always go if you ever can. There were deer and elk everywhere, and moose in the western meadows, and marmots chirped at us. We also saw bighorn sheep, though my daughter still insists that they just looked like barely perceptible dots on the side of a distant mountain. Our family rule is that the more the rangers keep stopping by the campsite to warn us in URGENT AND DIRE LANGUAGE that YOU WILL SEE BEARS, BE VERY CAREFUL, the less likely it is that we’ll ever see any bears. We were urgently warned; we did not see bears.
Our first morning in Colorado, my daughter woke up with pain in one ear — on the day we were about to drive to a campground at 11,000 feet. I was worried about the combination of ear problems and elevation, so we stopped at an urgent care clinic in Durango to have someone take a look at it. Unremarkable problem and unremarkable outcome, but the intake nurse asked my teenaged daughter all the usual health questions, building to 2022’s Big Finish™: “Have you received a Covid-19 vaccine?” There was a moment of awkwardness after the no, so she threw in that her dad doesn’t want her to get one. And then the nurse looked at her, and looked at me, and looked back at her, and then he leaned in close, and he said…
You’re guessing, right? You’re jumping to “oh no, what did that idiot say to her?” But what he said, quickly and quite firmly, was this:
“You should listen to your dad. And if anyone goes around behind his back to try to pressure you into taking that shot, they’re coercing you. And medical coercion is always wrong, so if anyone does that, you say no and walk away from them.”
I gave him The Nod in the clinic, but here it is again: Thank you for that. It was the right answer, and I’m glad to see that there are medical professionals who still know that.
By the way, I do accept and use a very powerful Covid-19 vaccine, and took this picture of it in our campsite:
Beyond that, I live in Deep Blue suburban Los Angeles, where our lawn signs say that Hate Has No Home Here and everyone still wears the virtuous Facial Fear Symbol (FFS). It was absolutely extraordinary, and absolutely a joy, to roll through Durango and Silverton and Ouray this week. I saw maybe two or three displays of the FFS, conspicuous in fields of normal people living normally. If you live in a Blue Zone, and you have to live there because of work or family — like me — then pay close attention to this advice:
GET. OUT. Get ooooouuuuuttttttt. At the very least, get out from time to time and see how the rest of the country lives. They don’t live like that.
The country is healthy; the Blue Zones are not. Don’t live inside the trap. Your car will set you free from it for a few days. Put a tent in the trunk, and a bottle of whiskey, and some form of meat. Good to go.
Finally, I had the most interesting discussion with a certain Blue Zone teenager about this Neko Case song, on the road to the glorious Bear Lake:
But I don’t have the energy to tell that story tonight, so more later.