I’m not a fan of the phrase “new normal.”
I fully understand the beauty of routine. We don’t, I think, fully appreciate routine until ours have been disrupted so much. But to strive for merely “normal,” to some state of continued equilibrium that is never disrupted, that doesn’t change…well, what fun is that?
New Normal: Two Types
Yet I hear continual cries that we have to get back to “normal.” There are two varieties. The first is the pre-pandemic world of mindless spending, taking tons of things for granted, and basically doing whatever the hell we feel like doing and not taking particularly good care of ourselves, our communities and our planet in the process.
I plead guilty to it all. I flew all over the world knowing full well that planes are one of the biggest carbon footprint expanders. But I figured, well, we donate to a lot of save the earth things, so that offsets it. Buying stuff I didn’t need? Check, on trips I didn’t need to make, whether in my car or in places I had to fly to. I went to work or out in public countless times when I didn’t feel so hot and possibly got someone else sick; didn’t give it a thought.
And of course, there’s the second variety of “normal.” Many of us—we’ll have a better idea of how many later—grieve for the absence of what we consider “normal” leadership. I’ve made no secret that I think Trump and his buddies are corrupt and repellent beyond measure. But I admit to being unpardonably lazy during the years of Obama’s presidency, despite his failure to be the progressive he campaigned as. (I get that compromise happens, and also that the link is to a very lefty publication, but well, it’s got its points.) Had Hillary Clinton won, I would have continued with that non-progressive, corporate-friendly normal just fine. (There’s no doubt the planet would have been safer, and I’m pretty sure she would have handled the pandemic better, but, well, we’ll never know for sure.)
Should Biden win, let’s promise to stay fired up. To make demands on our leaders. That is really, really hard to do; we’re all exhausted. But we’ve had to do a lot of difficult stuff lately. Let’s stay tough. Trump’s exposed the rottenness at the core of U.S. society, how easily we can be divided and turn on each other. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Democrats, liberals, and out and out lefties like myself talk about the stupidity and grossness of anyone who voted for Trump. Rather than “good people on both sides,” I see people who have a tremendous capacity for ugly, including myself.
And sure, you want to fight hatred with ugly, with more hatred. But, well, it ain’t workin’.
We gotta stop this, guys. I don’t know how. If I did, I’d bottle it.
The Present, which Is Now the Past
However, I did get a mini-bottle last night. The Ann Arbor Zen Temple held a special service, one emphasizing serenity, good will, peace, and our need to be the medicine that heals the world, whatever its maladies. And following that, Steve and I spoke to his sister. Her optimism and happiness on the eve of the election were a medicine of their own. I went to bed and woke up feeling undeniably happy. Thank you, Sue, from the bottom of my heart.
And I thought, well, it may not last. Which made me doubly determined to really, really feel the happiness when I have it.
New Normal: The Future
Le Chou Fou’s days are numbered. It’s been a wonderful run here, y’all. Thank you for supporting me and sending so much love while we were in Péru and since. However, now that the blog isn’t my lifeline to friends and loved ones while we’re a hemisphere apart, I want to move on. I’ve shared a lot of my own stories. Now I want to help other people share theirs.
My new project, Head Roam, seeks to help people do what I did for years: travel virtually. We used to call it armchair traveling. But there’s a huge difference now. I feel like there’s an imperative to continue to connect with people in other places, to support those who saw healthy livings in the tourist industry evaporate. At the same time, that carbon footprint thing is real. Sitting high above the quiet city of Lima, planes in the sky replaced by huge, soaring birds—not condors, but no less beautiful—I knew that I had to figure out a way to, well, straighten up and fly right, meaning a hell of a lot less.
My aim is to make Head Roam a one-stop virtual touring destination. I’m planning to launch on December 1. I’ll have some explanatory posts about the whole idea, as well as 8-10 destinations. The long-term strategy is to add more continually. Shortly prior, I’ll give you all a sneak peek.
Until then, I intend to live fully whatever life throws at me. If it’s joy, optimism, happiness, I’m soakin’ it up. And when it’s fear, sadness, uncertainty, I’ll feel that, too.
The thing is to be awake each moment. Maybe that’s the best normal of all.