Tag Archives: Normal

Normal?

What is normal?  Normal is yesterday and last week and last month taken together.’ – Lord Vetinari from Snuff by Terry Pratchett

Since the COVID pandemic hit in early 2020, people have lamented the desire to return to “normal”.

Normal. What is it? How do we define it? Is “normal” even a real thing?

We slosh through today hoping the experiences of all our yesterdays equip us to get through the day. If our experience isn’t enough, then we have to work at it, we have to find a way to navigate the challenges. We learn.

As soon as today is done, it becomes yesterday. It’s in the past and added to the memory banks, which are, in a way, our experience tank. The tank of experience is our normal. As Terry Pratchett says through his character Lord Vetinari, normal is the giant rubber band ball made from adding one rubber band a day. 

And being humans, we like to think we and our extensive experience tanks of normal are how everything in the future should be. We take comfort in believing we are in total and complete control. We aren’t.

So the overwhelming desire for things to return to “normal” is a fool’s errand. As I’ve written before, we are improbable beings moving at 492, 126 miles per hour through space. We are not in total and complete control. We are, however, blessed with our experience tanks. We have the tools to overcome the unknowns of tomorrow if we have the will to do the work.

We can’t move forward through tomorrow if our will is desperately hanging onto the “normal” in our heads. We stagnate. We fail to solve the problems that inevitably pop up on a daily basis. Normal is how you got through until yesterday. Normal can be part of getting through tomorrow but it can’t force the future to be the past.

In writing, the final resolution of a story, the ending, is sometimes referred to as the “new normal”. Something happens in the story that changes the character for good or bad. The events of the past lead to navigating the future. The events of the past aren’t the future.

Can you imagine how riveting the Harry Potter books would have been if life never left the room under the stairs and stepped out to navigate an unknown and scary new tomorrow? That series would have sold about 50 books instead of millions.

To make a long story short(er), don’t obsess about a return to “normal” as we traverse another day through a major life shift of a global pandemic. Do your best to get through today, bank that in your experience tank, and then attack tomorrow. 

Learn from yesterday. Use the knowledge to navigate today. Put it all together to attack the future. 

What is normal?

It’s what we make it to be.

But first, we need to leave the room under the stair.

formulanone from Huntsville, United States, CC BY-SA 2.00, via Wikimedia Commons

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Bits & Pieces

I was listening to sports radio today and heard a story about Cam Newton, the quarterback of the Carolina Panthers. After hearing the story, I was shocked at my initial reaction. The story was about Cam Newton saying, “I’m an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people because they haven’t seen nothing they can compare me to.”

Now, now…don’t jump to conclusions. I didn’t think anything negative about the Carolina Panthers QB. I like him and the energy and joy he brings to the game.

What jumped into my 51-and-a-half, grumpy-old-white-guy head was, “That’s right, Cam Newton is black, isn’t he.” What surprised me was that, as a bona fide, 51-and-a-half, grumpy-old-white-guy, I just see Cam Newton as a QB.

Have we progressed to the point where—for most of the NFL football fans in America—race  is beginning to matter less and less? But, race still matters and race should be celebrated instead of targeted with those unfounded stereotypes.

Hopefully, we are getting to the point where, thanks to guys like Marlin Briscoe, James Harris, Doug William, Randall Cunningham, Warren Moon, etc., we can finally bury the belief that it is not “normal” for an African American to play QB.

I wonder if we are re-defining what “normal” means?

What is “normal”, anyway? Is there even a normal in America anymore? Not the “normal” that is built on stereotypes. Maybe normal has become a patchwork of bits and pieces. Maybe normal is made up of many facets that shine from different angles and radiate many colors. Maybe, just maybe, things are changing for the better.

The day when old, grumpy, white guy sees an African American QB as just a QB, it is good news. It is a sign of progress. It’s a better place to be where things like skin color matter less than action and deed.

Bits and pieces bound together to make the world a better place.

We are, in fact, made of bits and pieces of damn good stuff.

We are a patchwork of awesome.

Quilt_weaving_close_up

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