Cherie Hanson
5 min readDec 8, 2020


What Happens When We Are Terrified?

Yes, we are all at sea right now. We are fighting the waves of change. When I stood in line my habit trained mind rebelled against the 6-foot rule. My body wanted to move up. Many times the clerk had to say, “Wait until you are called up.” I watched my mind. I am always curious. My habit mind reacted and I felt many things at once. I felt ashamed because I hadn’t complied with the new rule and then exactly like the child that runs my life I felt petulant and defensive. Things like,”Who are you to” and “Why are you embarrassing me” and many other responses like that of a spoiled 4 year old flashed through my mind.

And then people became numb to the COVID threat. I haven’t experienced a loved one dying on a respirator alone in a hospital so it isn’t real for me. None of my neighbours has tested positive and had to isolate and they don’t wear masks so it must not be that bad.

I watched my mind insisting that if I had no first-hand experience with the reasons for the rules then the rules were stupid and I wanna. I wanna go out. I wanna be with people. I wanna ignore the rules and the fear and the scientific data.

I thought of the time when I was too old to be that stupid when I ate some pretty red berries on a bush outback. I ate them because I WANTED to. My mother had told me that not everything that looked like a berry was a berry and I must not put new things in my mouth.

Nobody I knew was poisoned by a beautiful red seed looking like a berry. I had never been poisoned. The danger held no personal resonance for me.

And the arguments were exactly the same as I see operative in the population right now.

I wanna eat the berries. You can’t tell me not to eat them because you are just trying to force me to follow your rules. The berries have been there for years and NOBODY (you know that person called NOBODY) has ever fallen ill.

And so I ate the berries. Swiftly within an hour, I was violently ill. It was too late to eject the poison from my stomach but I tried valiantly. I started to shake, ran a fever and finally just passed out. My mother woke me to give me more inducement to vomit yet again and forced liquid into my reluctant body.

It was a week before I could stand on my feet again.

I was 8 years old. I was old enough to know better. But the problem was I was old enough to THINK I knew better. The idea, “You aren’t the boss of me,” is not the idea of…