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The New Normal? Not So Fast…and Not So Easy

The New Normal? Not So Fast…and Not So Easy

Yesterday’s post, Gone Fishin’, mentioned that I hit a wall last week and would show up in your inbox today re-grouped, re-Sourced, recovered, with an attempt at explaining, at least exploring, why.

A health scare, resolved, nothing to worry about now, and I’m grateful for that. Profoundly.

The wall was noticing that I wasn’t turning cartwheels in joy at the reprieve, wasn’t so eager to re-engage with my life, with the life of the larger world, though both are precious and, indeed, it’s a privilege to be alive to engage at all.

But the lives we are being asked to re-engage with now, having the privilege to re-engage if we and our loved ones and our friends and colleagues are vaccinated, and the people we depend on to keep our lives going, essential workers and everyday workers, are vaccinated…those lives are not the lives we sheltered from more than a year ago.

The wall I hit was not just bewilderment and grief about so many losses.  It was realizing how aversive I was to facing the bewilderment and grief of those losses. Me hitting that wall last week was “I don’t wanna.”  I was tired of doing what I know works.  I needed a full stop to fully realize how aversive I had become to facing and dealing with so much pain, loss, sorrow, and grief. I needed to normalize how unnormal everything felt in that moment.

I teach and try to walk-the-talk all the time, that resilience is facing and dealing with life’s crises and catastrophes, mini- or major.  And when we get temporarily overwhelmed, to practice ABC:

To be Aware, Allowing, Accepting of whatever is going on

To Be with (and even Be-friend) whatever is going on

To bring Compassion to ourselves for whatever is going on, to re-Connect and share with others whatever is going on, with some Curiosity and Care

Over the weekend, I managed to practice ABC enough that I could stand up again and write this post.

I teach that even when we have experienced trauma – and the losses of the past year, and the ongoing hardships caused by ongoing discrimination and injustice, have been traumatizing for many – that it is possible to learn from the lessons embedded in the traumas, the AFGO’s – “another frickin’ growth opportunity,” and to transform that adversity, loss, trauma into learning and growth.

And I teach about post-traumatic growth. That even when the “old normal” has been shattered and can’t be returned to, it’s possible to find the strength, resources and courage to create a new normal, often with even deeper connections to other people and a clearer sense of meaning and purpose.  All of that is true.

And hitting that wall last week gave me insight into how slowly some of us will be emerging from this pandemic, how long it might take to create the new normal of re-connecting with family and friends and familiar routines again.

And for the larger world, with COVID deaths continuing in large numbers around the world and the centuries of discrimination and oppression still existing in our own country, creating the new normal may take an incredibly long time.

I don’t want to give up. I don’t want to fall asleep at the wheel and not try.  But I do respect how incremental the progress might be, trying to be patient with that.  

Like healing from my shoulder fracture, I can drive; I can carry groceries; I can do the laundry. I can swim.  But I still can’t yet lift my left arm over to my right shoulder to dry it with a towel. Moving into a new normal – on so may levels – will still take time.

I could-should-will write a post about practices of patience and perseverance. For now, may these wisdom quotes from role models who have had to cultivate both be helpful in guiding you to the new normal.

Behind every human being who cries out for help there may be a million or more equally entitled to attention.  How to determine which of one million sounds surrounding you is more deserving than the rest? Do not concern yourself with such speculations. You will never know; you will never need to know. Reach out and take hold of the one who happens to be nearest.

– Norman Cousins

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism.  It is not the conviction that something will tunr out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.

– Vaclav Havel  

I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as thought they were great and noble.  The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.

– Helen Keller