Mask Trash

Today, I woke up early. Fed my cute chubby little baby, somehow found time to take a shower and magically get to the park with enough time to get in a short hike before work.

The cold snap has finally ended. The sun is shining. The grass is green. Squirrels are frolicking up and down the trees as if playing tag, and I was lucky enough to soak it all up before sitting down to work.

I don’t know why these walks mean so much to me. Maybe it’s desperation for some normalcy in a world seemingly gone insane, or maybe it soothes me because wandering the woods is something I’ve done all my life and I feel most comfortable with the flora and fauna. It doesn’t matter why nature balances my mental health; the point is that it does. Walking is medicine to me. Nature is life.

So when I’m on the trail alone with my thoughts and those of the world, it’s pretty jarring to find cheap medical masks strewn about. It’s horrific actually.

Disgust, anger, frustration are all emotions I immediately felt when I found one on the trail today. Why? Because the people who say “wear a mask to show you care” are somehow oblivious to the pollution their movement has caused.

I’m better off just keeping my distance. I was very sick when I was 9 years old. I caught every bug you can imagine. I missed so much school they nearly held me back and I fell severely behind in math (to the point that I didn’t catch up until college). I nearly died when my sports asthma combined with pneumonia and gave me such an attack that my lungs felt like they were imploding.

So no, I don’t wear masks. I have no interest in paying to breathe. I used to joke that “they can tax our homes, clothes, food and water, but at least they can’t tax the air.” Well, now they don’t have to. Our governing bodies have convinced everyone to purchase masks so they can breathe freely.

We are now paying to breathe.

At the start of the pandemic I empathized. I stayed home and kept my distance instead of choosing to give up my face (something I still do). I mean in a free world we’re supposed to have options, right?

I’ve studied biology for most of my life and understand that viruses never just “go away.” Once they’re here they remain.

Viruses mutate. They change. Vaccines may help against some strands, but they will never eradicate, even if 100% of the population takes a vaccine, because, as just stated, viruses change. They’re like living beings which essentially “want” to survive, just like everything else on the planet, and they will do whatever is necessary to thrive.

So getting back to the mask trash. Every time I see a mask on the ground, there’s usually people nearby who ignore it, or avoid it like it’s bio-waste. I guess on a small scale it is, if you consider everything bio-waste, especially humans. I mean we’re being treated as if our bodies are waste now.

But when I see masks on the ground, do you know what I do?

I pick the damn mask up and throw it away. If there’s not trash can nearby I put it in my pocket and dispose of it later.

But… but, but, but it’s carrying the plague. I could die! I could infect others!

Chill out germophobes. No one wants anyone else to die (at least the healthy sane people out there don’t). Death may be a fact of life that we wish to pretend away, but the average age of death from covid is 80+ years.

That’s a CDC stat. The average life expectancy in the U.S. is… drumroll please…. 78. 

Read that again. 78. Yes.

Grandma is going to die, covid or no covid. So am I, my children, my pets, the trees I love, and eventually this planet. YOU will one day die. Hopefully AFTER your grandma.

My grandparents didn’t believe in living in fear. Maybe they were too American. Maybe they were naive to some. But to me they made sacrifices to secure our freedoms. The right to decide to wear a mask or not wear one. The right to care about the environment and understand that we are not immortal.

My immune system is rocking right now. I haven’t been sick since I got covid19 last year. It’s just like when I was one of the first people in my area to get H1N1. It wasn’t fun. I was sick, but afterwards my immune system was so pumped I didn’t get sick for years.

That’s how biology works. That’s how viruses work. They do kill off the weak and that is very sad, but it strengthens those who do not live in fear. It gives people who truly live, the ability to fight off other illnesses and thrive.

I’m not afraid to pick up trash and throw it away because if I get sick and die, that’s just nature doing her duty. I am ready to go whenever it’s my time.

If others are not ready, then that’s their right. Wear what you want. Cover yourself in masks from head to toe. Please, do whatever YOU need to do to live your life as best you can. I urge you to. But, please─please, please, please, PLEASE pick up your damn trash and properly dispose of it.

The mask I picked up today doesn’t even protect against covid. It was one of the cheap surgical masks that clearly state that on the box, if you’re into reading the fine print (which I am). The second you use it, it is garbage, so put it where it belongs.

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