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Katie’s Musings – Normal

Kerrie Kleppin-Winn
April 29 2020

 

NORMAL

So how are you doing?  Like, really?
Find a rhythm yet?
Lose that rhythm and find another one?
Lose your cool?

As we are headed into another month of this quarantine situation, I asked myself that question and was shocked and saddened to learn that this is all starting to feel…. normal.   I work.  (A bunch.)  I walk.  (Walking has long been an anxiety-coping mechanism for me, though probably not to this extreme)  I do yoga, taking advantage of all the free online workouts and sessions via YouTube and Instagram that are flooding my feeds.  I’m probably physically healthier than I’ve been in a good long while.  I worry about my friends and family members in healthcare fields, or with small children that they are now being asked to care for whilst also working a full time job, or the ones who have had or currently have this virus that we don’t fully understand.  But other than that last part… weirdly normal.

And thank heavens, really, because even a whiff of normalcy feels like a warm blanket right now.

But.

I cannot help but wonder the mental and emotional repercussions this time is going to have on me and all of us, really.  Particularly when things return to normal.
Not this normal.
The old normal.
When we could be near strangers without fear, visit stores and restaurants to our hearts’ content, hug our friends and neighbors, and when we maybe sometimes forgot to wash our hands.

There are certain parts of that “normal” I hope we never return to.  Definitely the traffic.  Rampant consumerism.  Disconnect with distant friends and families.  Pollution.  The noise and bustle of an ambitious, consuming society, content with a certain level of self destruction in the service of “having it all.”

But.

A week ago, I was in a crowded store picking up essentials.  There were people everywhere, some of them definitely not bothering with the 6 foot rule and most of them not wearing masks.  That was normal just a few short months ago.  But a week ago, it felt so profoundly wrong.  Invasive.  Danger lurking in every accidental brush, every casual touch of a product not picked up and purchased… dodging allergy coughs, checking out quickly and then running to my car before dousing my hands in hardcore hand sanitizer and speeding home for a shower.

I don’t ever want any of that to be normal.

Surely there has to be a halfway place for us to be.

Where “normal” is consenting hugs with people not in your household and also connection across miles and realities.

Where it’s “normal” to be in public spaces with crowds without fear and also solo meanders appreciating nature.

Where “normal” requires compassion and care for the vulnerable, even when there isn’t a virus.

Where “normal” means that environmental victories are no longer quarantine anomalies but commonplace.

Where “normal” means that ambition is totally cool as long as it doesn’t run over care and compassion.

Where it’s “normal” to take life slower and to be content with what you have and also dream of a wide and wonderful future.

May you find some sense of normalcy this week, all the while dreaming of a normal that could be on the other side of quarantine.