Normal is officially on hiatus.
Whatever normal might ever have been, it isn’t right now.
We are still doing some “normal” things, of course. We are eating and sleeping and laughing and crying and working and learning.
But even these most basic elements of “normal” we are doing in new ways.
We are eating, but more at home and possibly using ingredients we’ve stocked up on more than usual.
We are sleeping, but some of us more fitfully and some of us just more.
We are laughing, but maybe feeling a little guilty about it.
We are crying, but maybe more often and about things we aren’t even sure we understand.
We are working (some of us, and we’re thankful for it), but from home or on a reduced schedule or at a different job we’ve hastily gotten to fill in the gaps.
We are learning, but in different ways and places and at different paces. Some learning is much slower, and some is so fast we can’t keep up with it.
And then there are the normal things we are not doing and the abnormal things we are doing.
We are not shaking hands or eating in restaurants or getting together. We are not, some of us, going to work or church.
We are staying home and washing our hands A LOT and canceling plans and seeing a great many posts about toilet paper.
We are, frankly, already tired of all of it: the erased normal and the altered normal and the abnormal. We have not actually been living on this normalcy hiatus for very long, but it already feels like a lifetime, and we are DONE.
Life called, and it wants its normal back.
But maybe getting back to normal shouldn’t be what we want most.
Some of the not-so-normal things we are doing are things we needed—and need—to do. Things like working out our patience muscles. Things like checking on the vulnerable and asking, “Does anybody need anything I can provide?” Things like seeking out opportunities to help and serve. Things like spending extended time with our families and not just at the holidays. Things like realizing what matters most.
Things like stripping away some busyness. Things like making sure the people we love know it. Things like breathing and going outside and taking walks and soaking up sunshine. Things like figuring out what we can do without. Things like appreciating a lot of pieces of normal life we take for granted.
Some of these not-so-normal things are the byproducts of not being able to do a lot of usual life. We’ve had space and wide margins opened up, and we’ve filled them with some things that might be good to keep around when normal—or a new version of it, anyway—returns.
Instead of getting back to normal, maybe what we should want more is to get forward to something better.
To a place where we recognize that there were some good things missing from our old normal and so we decide, gratefully, to make them part of our new.