Straight Dope: Remain calm, all is well!?

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There’s a classic moment in the movie “Animal House” I’ll never forget. It features Kevin Bacon as an ROTC dickwad trying to keep the lid on the chaotic parade run amok at the end of the film.

In it, KB repeatedly screams: “Remain calm! All is well!” By the end of the sequence Kevin is pancaked into an alley by the marching band. Alarmingly, in 2020, KB’s cry has become our worldwide mantra.

A few weeks before the shit hit the fan, I decided it was high-time to renew an old Xanax prescription. (I rarely use it, but I figured it would be good to have around in case of emergency.) While at the pharmacy, I asked the pharm tech how people are reacting to the current scare.
“Not well,” she said, “and they’re making me so anxious.”

I asked how she was coping, and she said, “I smoke a lot of weed.”

But is smoking a lot of weed really the answer to our own parade run amok?

Confession: I stopped cannabis a few weeks ago. It directly coincided with a panic attack, and the aforementioned trip to the pharmacy. I felt the weed was only tamping down my anxiety and not alleviating it. Now, facing what we are facing, I feel deep relief that I quit. Sure, the vivid dreams of my the first few nights nearly drove me batshit crazy, but now I feel I’m way more equipped to confront the reality staring us down: utter f*cking chaos.

Realistically, this is all part of a new normal that appears here to stay — even when we’re past the current coronavirus. Come on, can you imagine our president gracefully stepping down if he gets beat by Biden? That’s just one example. But let’s forgo the crazy new norm for a moment and focus on what we can control: Our own emotions. Which, at a time like this, are vitally important.

1) Remove the majority of news from your diet. Yes, it is important to stay informed. It is NOT important to be glued to the panic 24/7 via our news feeds, Facebook, etc. This creates an entirely negative brain loop.

2) Take up meditation. This is NOT hard. Search online for breathing exercises and start with just a few minutes a day. I promise you, it gets easier, and rapidly much more calming to the soul.

On a similar tack: I was watching one of my favorite Netflix shows, “Babylon Berlin,” last night when it became just too intense to handle. I got smart and broke out my old “Get Smart” DVDs. “Sorry about that, Chief.”

3) Be kind. While it may seem like the zombie apocalypse is here, we will get by this, and it is important not to allow any crisis to flush out your inner “Walking Dead” character.

4) It’s OK to use cannabis for a little escape, but more important to allow some of these primal fears we all have to surface so we can explore them — maybe through journaling — and become better, stronger, more effective humans in the long run. We’re definitely going to be practicing better hygiene!

As for myself, I’m trying hard not to be Kevin Bacon. Truthfully, I want to be Belushi in the end, riding off in the convertible with the girl — the one I was sexting with for two months while waiting for this horror to pass.

Freelance columnist Rick Cipes fronts the indie band the Agreeables (theagreeables.com). To watch a video of him singing his COVID-19 song, see https://youtu.be/2_WUPh016ho

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