Redefining normal


What amazes me about people, as a society, is their dark times. I’m not just talking about America here either. But people in general. Forget nations, borders, and skin. People in times of change and fear can amaze me.

People are stubborn, and I love it. Sure, it has caused a lot of heartache and sorrow in many lives, but in times like this, in moments of darkness when they have a light of hope to hold onto, that stubbornness pays off. We push through, headstrong, and grab each other’s arms and drag each other along.

More than just “getting by” in the last week, I’ve started noticing so many different things about people. As some have started venturing out again, as some are still staying home, I see points of color.

You see, to me, in the past month or two, since the outbreak really kicked up, I have seen a lot of black and white in the world. A lot of cynicism, but a lot of helping each other. That can be great, but that’s very divided. I loved seeing stories about people donating or volunteering, others creating masks. That’s great, but it is the white to balance the black. The color comes in between.

The color comes when I don’t just see people wearing masks, but I had someone create a more “fashionable” mask for me. I have this thing now that has a pattern with superheroes on it. Just days ago, I ran into a woman with a crocheted mask that could hold the masks and filters, but it was designed to look like the “baby-yoda-thing” from The Mandalorian. I asked her about it and she said her daughter loved the show and designed it for her. It even had the ears sticking forward out of the mask from the top of it.

I have seen others wearing designed masks that look like animal mouths. Yeah, sort of cliche, but it was funny to me and I liked it. Of course, we already have masks for men and women to match their outfits for the day. from matching a purse, tie, shirt, dress, shoes. Leave it to us as humans to make sure that the thing keeping us and others safe is going to look just as good as the rest of our outfit.

I’ve seen cloth masks, medical-grade masks, surgical masks, bandana masks, patterned masks, drawn-on-designs, flag patterns, designer logos, and so many others that I feel like I could pen a Dr. Seuss book about it, “One mask, two masks, Red masks, blue masks.”

But its more than making masks our own, the stubbornness stretches to who we are as people. We are social creatures. Yeah, even you introverts in the back, I see you. You may not be as social, but I am willing to bet there is someone you like being around, even if only for small amounts of time. We’ve all seen musicians starting to put on concerts from home, we’ve read about sports coming back this summer to play in empty stadiums.

Yeah, it’s not the same, but when you need to play some music, you get your concert on however you can. Stubbornness wins. I know at least two local musicians doing the exact same thing because they just want to be social, play music, and have some fun. One even does trivia between songs.

A medical student that I spoke with just two days ago said she even thought that the virus has done some good with so many people so aware of the germs in their lives now and the ease that they spread from surface to hand to face. She said, “We in the medical profession have always known, but, now, people are listening.”

I’ve had zoom meetings, both for business and for personal meetings. It has amazed me how quickly that meeting stops if a dog or cat appears on someone’s screen. And nobody complains, they welcome the moment of distraction. And even though it is through a screen, we are inviting people into our homes again. A glimpse into each other’s personal space. We may be social distancing, but I’ve never been closer to some people. Aquaintances I know through social activities, I’ve learned so much about them because I’ve met their kids, their families, their pets as they pass behind a laptop camera.

I’ve seen a lot more literal color, too. I have seen a lot of people out in their yards, playing in the streets, working in a garden. Not far from my house, there is a large pasture on each side of the road. On the left, horses roam the fields, grazing and enjoying the cool air for now. On the right, a very large herd of cows groups up to stand in a drink from a creek running through their field that stretches for what I assume is nearly a mile. Yet, this past month, I’ve found myself driving slower than I normally do through the area and it isn’t because of the animals in the fields. I’ve seen eight kids on bicycles. I’ve not seen this before in the two years that I’ve lived in my house.

They ride the road between these fields with a German Shephard close at their heels. Laughing and racing, I’ve noticed them at midday several days in a row. I don’t know them, but I politely wave as I pass them and go on to my errands or work. A few sit in a driveway, one of them drawing on the asphalt with a piece of chalk.

I’ve smelled the honeysuckles blooming as my allergies go into fits, but I’ve also smelled more backyard campfires, grills, and meat cooking.

It’s these little things that I’ve noticed now.

My world changed, I saw a lot of black and white. But, just like when I was a child laying in the floor of my Dad’s living room with a coloring book, I’ve taken this past month to fill in a lot of the black and white pictures with a little bit of work and a few broken crayons. And thanks to that, I have a lot more color in my book.

1 Comment

  1. Mark Adams May 19, 2020 at 1:03 pm

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