Risk, Reward, and Responsibility

I can’t get this out of my mind today, so I’m going to try to understand my own thoughts better by brainstorming here. What I want to address is how the math of risk and reward changes as responsibility increases. I’ll dive into this more, and I’m going to use a current topic I was wrestling with as an example.

In order to paint a clear picture of the timeframe of this, my wife is currently pregnant, and while we are just ending the COVID 19 pandemic, there is now a Delta variant on the move. Daily cases are at 6,391 in the state of California, and where we live in Santa Barbara County there are a total of 64 cases for the daily average.

The Scenario

We are to attend a wedding in Los Angeles County this weekend for a close High School friend of mine and until this weekend we were super excited to attend. Big wedding, fun wedding party, should be a blast. But the math has changed and we are deciding whether we should go anymore. We have a baby on the way and need to evaluate the risk we would be incurring. Is a non zero risk of losing a pregnancy worth the reward of a drunken night of dancing the night away with friends? We could probably end the discussion here, but might as well dig a little deeper.

Losing a pregnancy because of attending a wedding seems like a pretty big jump right? Let’s dive into this. Los Angeles County has a much higher daily average of cases, currently at 2,284. That alone is 35x the risk of staying in Santa Barbara County. Source: NY Times. That is directly increasing our odds of being in contact with someone that has the Delta variant by a factor of 35. Crazy to think about that. We’re well known for hitting the dance floor, I love my wine, and weddings are full of hugs and catching up with old friends. All of what I was planning on doing would put us at a further risk. I don’t want to go to a ceremony and turn around right after either, weddings are for celebrating. We’ve got to paint an accurate picture of what the wedding will look like in order to assess the reward. If we can’t fully experience the wedding, that lowers the reward side of the equation significantly.

We’re both vaccinated, should it still matter? Yes. Even when symptoms are mild, one of the main symptoms is a fever. This can directly impact the health of the baby. The vaccine dramatically reduces risk of any serious illness, but Delta has proven to infect people post vaccine. We’re not as immune as we thought we were and this should concern all of us and increase the risk in the equation. From taking a deeper look into the risk and reward of this, the risk is higher and the reward is lower than they appear.

Bigger Picture

We’re vaccinated, pandemic is over, most likely going to be safe, and yet there is no way we can reasonably go to this wedding. We must think about the increase in responsibility before even evaluating this risk/reward situation. The decision is no longer a small and easy one. I think that this is part of growing up and thinking about the bigger picture. The bigger picture is just that we don’t know enough to guarantee safety and that does not fit in with the world that we want to help create. We owe it to ourselves, both our future selves, and our past selves. It took about two years for us to get pregnant and there is no way that we are going to risk our future even though the percentage is low. In this case a low percentage is too high.

Expecting a child is the cause of a major shift of mindset for me. I am no longer responsible for only myself, life is changing, and I have to acknowledge and accept this new reality. This is obviously a change that I’m welcoming with open arms, but it’s one that I didn’t really expect so soon. Life comes at you fast, and we must adapt. If we can all focus on what is most important, I think we will all be better off. The trick to this is that we don’t always realize what is staring us in the face, it takes some thought and reflection to get there.

It takes thought and reflection to get us to make the right choices. We have to give ourselves the time to get there and it’s not always easy in our world of never ending distraction, but that is how we will have the conviction to make good decisions. Regardless of how easy of a choice it is. I’m expecting this type of choice to become easier over time, but just writing this out has given me further conviction. I’m hoping we can all make more decisions that reward our future selves.