How many times have you heard that phrase in the past two months?
Or perhaps “When this is all over …”
Or “When we finally get back to normal …”
We’re a funny lot, aren’t we? Always aiming for a finish line. An end-point. A conclusion. We are a race weirdly preoccupied with the race. (Hmmmm – coincidence?). We strive for closure. A solid outcome. A finale.
Kinda silly when you think about it, right? I mean the grand finale is death (or so we think). I don’t know many people who are in a big fat hurry to get there. And yet we spend so much of our lives waiting for the next thing.
“When I finally finish school …”
“When I get my own place …”
“When I get married and have my own family …”
“When I lose those 20 lbs …”
Oh, the list goes on and on. There is always an endgame that, when achieved, will bring the penultimate thing – whatever it is – that we crave.
But … as good old Dr. Faustus (Christopher Marlowe, Elizabethan tragedy) learned (after he made a deal with the devil), as soon as we get what we crave we want something new. Something different. We require another finish line to strive for. It’s human nature.
So now here we are. Having survived (and sadly not all of us) the first stage of this pandemic, we are champing at the bit (and no that’s not a typo, it’s the original and true word) to GET BACK TO NORMAL. Suddenly NORMAL has become the mission. The destination. Normal is what we all now desperately crave.
Not me. I never much liked normal anyway and I’m pretty sure if you added up all the descriptors attributed to me over the years “normal” would be absent from the list. But I also truly believe that when BIG SHIT happens it is meant to be a wakeup call. The Universe is kicking our asses. Shaking us out of our doldrums. Forcing us to decide if “normal” (whatever that was) is really worth aspiring to. We are supposed to be utilizing this big fat intermission to contemplate our existence, evaluate our goals and just maybe redefine our endgames.
I have another idea. Let’s just cancel our endgames. Let’s stop being a society of achievers who must at all costs achieve. Let’s forget about getting back to normal and let’s set out to just be present in this next phase.
Covid Act II.
It ain’t over and we are not back to normal. We’ve just endured the first act. Now we move forward. Not towards another finish line. Just forward, step by step, day by day, through LIFE. Life as we currently know it. Life in ACT II.
Yes, oh yes, I am looking forward to getting some long overdue hugs. Cooking for my friends. Sitting around a bonfire and jamming with my musical pals. Hopping on a plane and exploring new lands. Going to HomeSense for two hours (is that just me?).
However … I will not sacrifice common sense, scientific knowledge or rationality to achieve those goals.
Oh shit. I just said “achieve”.
Allow me to rephrase – I have no endgame. Nothing to achieve. Okay, that’s not entirely correct. I’m publishing a book. I’m starting a YouTube channel. I’m planting a garden and I’m cooking dinner tonight. I have lots to do. But my life henceforth will never again be what it was. “Normal” is off the table. My life is now focused on living in this exact moment. Loving this exact moment. Being grateful for this exact moment, even if it is Covid Act II. Whatever Act III delivers (and geez, I hope I’m here to bear witness) I’ll deal with then. My new normal is exactly what the Universe wants me to experience. And if this new normal puts brakes on my plans and desires, so be it. It is totally up to me to figure out how to deal.
We’re not going back, my friends. We are going forward. Not towards some old, worn-out target. Towards this evening. This night. Tomorrow morning.
How lucky are we?