Chapter to Chapter: Trying Hard Here—The Current Normal
I apologize ahead of time if this particular column sounds a bit random and filled with stream-of-consciousness. I sat down a few minutes ago with the clear and focused determination to write something upbeat and positive and full of hope. That is my intended goal. However, I do think it wise that such a perspective be balanced against the specific need for that positivity. In other words, why do we need such rays of sunshine right now? Do I even have to ask? Before those of you who read my weekly columns say to yourself, “Oh, boy, here he goes again,” know that my goal is not to be negative. This one is happy! Hurrah! Joy! But to outline why the need for mass happiness is to first show some unhappy truths. Sadly, many people see such unhappy truths as “political” battle-lines. The real truth is that the “real truth” is not political; it is merely points of reality. So, in a non-political unfurling, this is why we need happiness—and not a circular gun fight. We are in a global pandemic. Well, we are at least dealing with a spread of a disease. Many people are sitting at home, trying to social distance. We are becoming anti-social (if only in action) at restaurants and grocery stores. We are not in school. Many are not at work. Meat is expensive. Depression is at an all-time high. People’s finances are in peril. Our elderly and sick are vulnerable to a disease that many people have made many assumptions about. Certain leaders of certain states enjoy wielding oppressive power. Businesses have closed. People have lost loved ones. Life has just been rough. It’s been really rough. And sadly, people have been in the gutter of depression. Many others have been angry. Many have been angry because those with a steady income no matter whether of not they have to stay at home have told those who have to actually physically GO to work that they should be content to be shut up and shut down. Emotions are running at high levels, politics are spiraling at zeniths of corruption, and people are almost numb to it all.
But wait a minute. Didn’t I say this was going to be a happy column? Didn’t I mention something about being full of hope? Yes, I did, and yes, I am. In spite of difficulties, in spite of illness and sorrow, in spite of unnatural fears, in spite of oppression, and in spite of economic crises, we are still here, and people are waking up to the fact that we are alive and breathing. The sun is shining. Flowers are in bloom. There are foods in the supermarket. The electric grid still works. We can pick up the phone and talk with people. Heck, we can get in our cars and go visit people if we want. We are all becoming better cooks. We have our family. We have our friends. We have free speech. We have freedom to worship how we choose. We have the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. We have freedom of the press. We have the freedom to assemble. We have the right to bear arms. We have the right to be free from searches and seizures. We have the right to plead the Fifth. We have the right to live our lives as we see fit. And we have the right to be free from others ruling over us with an iron fist. We have the right to feel the emotions we feel, to love people we choose, to dislike asparagus, to hate the color yellow, and to wear super-soft underwear. We can read what we want. We have a right to write what we want. Fuzzy blankets are comfy. Fried chicken is good. Friendship is powerful. Family is essential. But for everything we have to be grateful for and thankful for, we have to care enough about to fight for. Unfortunately, as much as you may agree that we have much to be thankful for, there are those people who would be vehemently angry with you for thinking you have the right and duty to stand up for your liberty and happiness. There are those who’d call you names and think you are selfish for daring to hold those ideas, ideals, and rights dear to you. You will never change their minds. They will not rest until you submit and admit that you are wrong and that they are right. So, you have a choice. You can surrender, you can stay quiet, or you can stand up.
So, the good news? In the midst of sorrow, there are a variety of blessings you have. Hold on to them. Value them. Fight for them. Don’t let them be modified even in the slightest. While we have to be careful for a short term, we have to hold tight to those things that are important to us. Our “old normal” has been a source of great joy to us, and while there has to be a “temporary normal,” no long-term “new” normal should exist that will in any way change who we are, how we live, and why we do what we do on a daily basis. We have a lot to live for: faith, family, friends, careers, projects, and much more. The more we remember those beautiful parts of life, the more we are able to shove sorrow to a distant corner in our minds.