Normal Wasn't

Many of my friends and family are talking about not going back to the old normal - because the old normal wasn’t. At all.

It was never normal to be busy every minute of every day. It was never normal to be answering emails on days off just to catch up. It was never normal to be held hostage by your phone. It was never normal to race from playdate to movie theater to restaurant to football game, numbing ourselves with passive entertainment in desperate attempts to never miss out - on anything.  It was never normal to spend hours commuting in our cars, listening to podcasts about climate change as we pumped more CO2 emissions into the air.

Like the frog in the frying pan who heats up so gradually that he doesn’t realize he’s dying, we humans were oblivious to our slow mutual suicide. We were not just killing ourselves - we were annihilating our only home.

The arrival of Covid -19 dumped us out of our sizzling-hot frying pan into the frigid waters of the unknown. The cold shocked us into startled wakefulness. Sitting at home, shivering in isolation, we have had long hours to contemplate the old “normal”. And I have realized something. I don’t want to return to what was.

They tell us that the present pandemic is caused by a novel coronavirus.
Novel. Unknown, new, unfamiliar, unusual, unprecedented, unique, rare, surprising, strange, singular. Covid-19 has been all of those. More than anything, we have learned that the old ways don’t work.

Novel: fresh, new, imaginative, creative, revolutionary, trailblazing, groundbreaking, pioneering. As we remake our lives, we may have no choice but to become novel. Novel or die.

Let’s not jump back into the frying pan. Let’s envision and create a new future. How might this novel future look? One where everyone has enough to eat, shelter, and basic healthcare. One where our essential workers - nurses, doctors, grocery store clerks and stockers, utility workers, teachers, truckers and stevedores make a living wage. One where we recognize and guarantee that animals, trees, and water sources have inalienable rights. A future in which we slow down enough to bask in gratitude for the chance to draw breath.


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