Getting Used to It

Is this what they mean by the phrase “new normal?” Rolling out of bed each morning after a fitful night’s sleep of strange dreams, putting on slippers to travel the miles from the world of Bed to the world of Living Room, stopping off at Café Kitchen for some coffee, parking myself on the couch for whatever dose I can handle of death tolls, new cases, glimmers of hope, and a summary of the latest episode of Captain Cheeto’s Unreality Show.

Then it’s time for my daily walk/run/jog, along the same path, overlooking the same charming little creek. Glancing at the same Pandemic playground (surrounded by yellow caution tape), people passing at the new six feet distance. Streets still empty, Trader Joe’s still wiping down baskets and making us wait in line to get in and coming to grips with the fact that toilet paper no longer exists. Nearly everything about life has changed overnight, yet there is a sameness to our days. We make routine out of chaos, and it feels almost like real life, but not quite. It feels like pretend.

So is “new normal” that moment when we are able to make routine out of insanity? We can’t see our friends, we can’t touch our family. Thom Hartmann expressed it well this morning. He said that underneath all this coping, we are grieving the loss of normalcy. I guess that’s how humans have adapted over the eons so that catastrophes like losing our way of life, our livelihoods and potentially life itself, don’t send us all howling from our rooftops in anxiety and desperation.

Those of us not directly affected by illness or overflowing hospitals or homelessness or joblessness are living these pretend lives, surrounded by a world in eerie suspended animation. It‘s like the closed restaurants, the empty streets, shuttered stores, museums and schools are frozen in place. Mortgages, rent, student loans, income taxes; frozen. The future, whatever it’s going to be, frozen.

Which keeps reminding me of the movie Frozen II, which I saw with my granddaughter, who firmly believes she is Elsa from that story. Elsa’s power is to freeze everything, something Kyla does on a regular basis to protect you, after she warns you that monsters are in the house. The monsters are still there, but they can’t get you as long as you stay frozen.

We are frozen in abnormalcy.