Stranger Days #1: It's Not the "New Normal"

Estimated Reading Time: 3.5 minutes

The definition of normal from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Merriam-Webster's Definition of "normal"
The other day, I wrote this blog post about how I'm adapting to things and keeping things in perspective. It was helpful for me to lay it out but I heard from folks that it was helpful for some of you.  I also realized that it was important for me to find a space to talk about the things that I'm seeing, thinking, and wanting insight on.  So what better way to do that, than what I've done several times before such as my doctoral work, running, and my various 365 challenges (such as books, photos, and short stories).

So welcome to Stranger Days as I'm calling it.  

A lot of folks are calling it the "new normal," but if I'm being honest that phrase just isn't sitting well with me.  It's "new normal" if you aren't really affected much by this than to work-from-home.  

That's simply not the case for too many folks and I dislike strongly the idea of just pretending or claiming things are normal.  Folks will be suffering in days to come from being sick, from not getting the medical help they need, from not being able to work, from not being able to afford rent or increasingly spare food--there's nothing normal about that at the likely scale we'll see (or maybe there is and we've just been operating in a 100-year bubble of abnormal times).  

By normalizing it, I fear it keeps us from being alert but also being mindful, kind, and supportive. It leaves us feeling easier to ignore the pain and suffering that people are already facing and will face. It allows us to distract ourselves with Netflix shows rather than thinking about how and what we can or should do.  

Claiming it as the "new normal", it also pushes us to accept it. Many people used this term in the days after Trump was elected.  As Americans and people around the country were met with an onslaught of his trollish and cruel language and actions each day, the "new normal" didn't necessarily help--it just made us and everyone complacent so that he could continue to tell lies and commit horrible acts from put children in cages to weakening environmental protections to failing Puerto Rico to eliminating or defunding the very entities in the government that were meant to help us in times like these.  

I'm sure I lost some readers with that paragraph but I somehow can't ignore the parallel. Accepting Trump's failed leadership as the "new normal" led to this exact disaster. Training ourselves to call this the "new normal" means we are ready to accept whatever next tragic thing that comes along without pause and without challenge.  That should scare us in many ways. 

Yet, I also get that by saying it's the new normal, it allows us some sense of comfort or ease because to change life so drastically, so quickly sends so many of our thoughts in lots of directions. I, too, have found myself having dark thoughts extrapolating about where things could go from here and thinking about survival. Just shifting my frame to say, "well, life right now is just the new normal and I'm ok" can give me comfort from those thoughts for sure.  But I only ask if we should be comfortable or even seek comfort right now.  Should we be thinking about how to deal with COVID19 and what comes next (significant economic devastation) and prepare how to help one another?  

Whatever comes next is going to likely be asl long and as taxing as this is and so conserving ourselves makes sense.  But is telling ourselves that it is the "new normal" doing that or is placating ourselves?  I don't know.  So feel free to share your thoughts.  I could go on but I also promised myself not to write for more than a half-hour on this.  After all, I have to go about my normal other business.

Take care. Be careful. Be care-filled.  Welcome to stranger days.  

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