Normal can be boring.
Isn’t that why we crave the changed-up variations of vacations, four-day weekend getaways, holidays and unanticipated snow days?
Yet it’s often a relief when we’re back in our “normal” routines, even if they’re achingly predictable at times. Knowing what to expect, where we’ll be, who we’ll see when we’re there, how the day will flow and what is required of us has a way of being reassuring, despite the challenges and mundane aspects of it all.
Like (and believe) it or not, we’re living in the midst of a pandemic at present. This could be a limb-jumper, but I’d venture a guess that tens of millions might prefer boring normalcy right now rather than the constant states of uncertainty and disruption surrounding us.
A phrase I’ve found myself uttering with increasing frequency of late, whether to an occasional guest, acquaintance, friend or family, begins with the word “Normally,” as in: “Normally, we’d be doing this,” or “Normally, this happens in Worthington on the second weekend of June,” or “Normally, a luncheon would follow a memorial service.”
In German — the language I understand and speak on a rudimentary level despite years of collegiate study — one of my favorite words to use in comparing cultural similarities and differences is “normaleweise.” Naturally, it means “normally.” The word rolls off one’s tongue luxuriously, allowing the speaker to sound insightful while drawing simple distinctions between what is happening and what should be happening.
This sudden shift in schedule, routine, income, events and grocery acquisition is affecting everyone, it’s understood. Still, it’s hard not to occasionally consider how everything affects one’s personal sense of “normal,” especially with far fewer opportunities to be physically present among co-workers, friends and even some family members.
For instance: “Normally, I’d be preparing the ‘Looking Back’ column now,” (something I did for almost 23 years straight without missing a single week).
Or, “Normally I’d have city band practice on Monday nights in June,” and “Normally my young adult kids wouldn’t be at home,” and “Normally we would have more relatives attending a family funeral,” and “Normally I wouldn’t have a ‘for sale by owner’ sign in front of my house.”
But as everyone has discovered some time ago, there’s not much “normal” about 2020 — though maybe that’s not altogether bad. If systemic racism has been our national “normal,” then it’s past time we uncover and implement a normal that is fairer for everyone.
If child care workers, teachers and grocery store employees are “normally” not well-compensated and too often under-appreciated, then waking up to the significant contributions they make to our society is worth some discomfort.
If “normally” we’ve taken for granted the presence of our families’ elders, then realizing they are uniquely vulnerable to viruses — even when they’re otherwise healthy — may help us value their wisdom and senior status to a greater extent.
Currently, so much is not “normal”: summer festivals and concerts are cancelled; graduations, weddings and funerals are virtual or postponed; remote learning was implemented with varying degrees of success; unemployment rates are soaring; and hordes of the still-employed are indefinitely “working from home.”
What choice is there but to embrace the changes we’re encountering? My new normal includes keeping at least two masks in the car, coming to terms with having no living parents or parents-in-law, readjusting to regularly feeding a family of four or more, and realizing that a move is on the horizon after being part of a community for over 25 years.
Eventually, “normal” will acquire a different look. Adaptation and evolution of behaviors, attitudes and goals may result. And in whatever language it’s spoken, we’ll all relish saying it … .normally.
Check out Time for Moore, Jane Turpin Moore’s blog, at https://timeformoore566445504.wordpress.com.