Stop Counting Cars

The only person in this world you have 100% control over is yourself.

the Wisdom of Beama

In order to sustain some semblance of sanity while strictly following a self-imposed, social distance, I settled on a stroll.

Ok, I went for a fucking walk.

When the outbreak began creeping toward West Michigan, I made the conscious decision that once we began caring for COVID-19 positive patients, I would go no further than home and back to the hospital where I work. Daily walks, setting limits on the consumption of digital media and creating to do lists were part of my self care.

The daily walk consisted of a one mile stretch along a main route in and out town and on one particularly sunny day I decided to count cars, simply out of curiosity. During that easy 18 minute mile, 131 vehicles drove past me.

And it pissed me off.

When the count started, I guesstimated 60 cars in that 18 minutes. I tried to stop my brain from continuing to tally as the number approached 75, then 100, but couldn’t. My stomach began to hurt and my thoughts began to tumble.

Where in the hell did 131 people need to go? Didn’t they know we were told to stay home? What was so important that they needed to expose themselves to this horrible virus AND DON’T THEY KNOW THERE AREN’T ENOUGH PEOPLE OR ROOMS OR EQUIPMENT TO PROPERLY TAKE CARE OF THEM WHEN THEY GET SICK BECAUSE THEY WERE STUPID?

There was a moment of relief as my feet found their way back onto my road and I forced myself to stop counting. The last half mile home the podcast episode piped into my earbuds retreated into background blather. I repeatedly asked myself why that number pissed me off.

It was control. I had no control over the train wreck I was envisioning myself and my colleagues facing. That goddamn curve wasn’t going to flatten if those people driving around kept flipping science the bird. We as, healthcare providers, were the ones expected to deal with the aftermath.

But I control me.

Over the years, when discussing the concerning actions of a friend or loved one, my Mother reminded me that the only person I have control over is myself. Even when witnessing someone we love doing something harmful, we can only express our concern and then let it be, simply removing ourselves from the situation if necessary. It is not our place to do more than that and continuing to nag, badger or guilt someone only leads to strife, anxiety, anger and damaged relationships.


It is my choice to follow the science and my decision to stay home and safe. I possess autonomy and sanity and ability to consciously choose to do the right thing.

And so, through writing this, I remind myself of what mom taught me and tell myself again: Stop counting cars.