jusummerhayes

Normal?

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash
Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

“I like it when a flower or a little tuft of grass grows through a crack in the concrete. It's so fuckin' heroic.”
George Carlin

Sadly, not the best night's sleep. 

Still, I'm here: coffee poured, a small bit of vegan chocolate ready to eat (I've stopped drinking red wine so I'm hoping it gives me the same acclaimed health benefits 🤞; it — the chocolate that is — doesn't, thank god, bring on a whacking great headache which is the reason I've ditched red wine for now); and I've cranked up some ambient music on Bandcamp — a place I increasingly call my musical home (I've discontinued all paid music-streaming services).

As to the rubric, like a few of my blog posts (am I still OK to call it/them that?), the idea isn't fully formed, but I still want to give you a taste of my thinking💡.

So, here we are, slap bang in the middle of a horrific Covid19 vortex that shows no sign of abating. It's killing people in increasing numbers, decimating countless lives and the economy (or the one we'd got used to), is, frankly, shot to bits. On a human level, it sucks. No, I mean it really sucks beyond anything any of us has ever experienced. 

But?

But somehow we're managing to find a way to get through things. Isn't that what we always we do? 

I'm no anthropologist, but, qua humans, we're legendary at pattern making. That means, in spite of not knowing (in some cases) where our next meal is coming from or if we're next in line to be claimed by Covid19, we're still managing, or so it seems, to function. 

And that's wonderful, surely — on a human level. 

Then again, and I could be completely wrong, if my quiet observance of the what's being said online is anything to go by, I don't see many people talking in terms of limit or being wrecked on schedule. No, if anything, one normal (i.e. pre-Covid19) is and has been replaced with something else, not quite normal (as we understand the word), but verging on that. It seems at least to my naive way of seeing the world that (as an example) working from home has been normalised. Likewise, all the other online offerings, including famous artists sharing their not insubstantial talent and back catalogue. You might say, well, isn't that the inevitable consequence of isolation and restricting our movements? Quite possibly, but it does feel that we want to keep ourselves as busy as possible in order not to deal with the blessed solitude, silence and lack of connection. I don't mean to suggest that we should all be comfortable being hermits and in fact for some people it might be deleterious to their wellbeing, but it does trouble me how we've this fascination with going online as if that's the only or the best outcome of isolation. You might say, and this to an extent applies to my own work, there's no choice but what would happen if there was no internet? How would we manage? Would we have to resort to letter writing, listening to the radio or something else which I can't even conceive?

I suppose my point is (at least so far as WFH is concerned), why it should take a pandemic for everyone, employers and employees alike, to suddenly latch on to the fact that it's entirely possible to still function — even of a fashion — without having to go down another rabbit hole of change consultants, thought leadership and a whole industry advocating for something that should have been bleedin' obvious by now?

Likewise, our sudden realisation that perhaps those people advocating for a different lifestyle, one not replete with rabid consumption, weren't that nutty after all.

Or that nature has a remarkable ability to heal, if only we'd give it a chance.

Or that living at a million miles an hour means we miss so much.

Or we've forgotten what's really important in our lives!

You get the picture.

Why, oh, why?

Perhaps I'm being too hard, too cynical or too much of a misanthrope but I can't help think that if we're not careful, in lurching from one modus operandi to another of similar purview, we'll forget to recognise the limits of our very existence, endings and the meaning of life/death. 

For a while now, not just inspired by the spiritually-infused, etymologically-driven writings of Stephen Jenkinson, I've begun to wonder why it is we're never able to talk about anything more than being all we can be. At least so far as I'm concerned, I want to embrace and understand my limits and what it means to Die Wise. This isn't some new-age, little 'b' Buddhist exploration. This is much more in the space of accepting that, like you, I'm human and with that common understanding we're tethered to the limits of our life, the limits of a finite world and if we don't escape our solution-obsessed world and start to live in the question then, frankly, as best I know, all we'll do is get through this pandemic as far as possible, find a cure, treat everyone — or those that can afford the vaccine — and swiftly move on to the next vision quest, To-Do list or strategy for growth — personal and economic.

Like I said, this idea is still very much in the melting pot and is, I guess, slightly oracular — if that's not contradictory — but I do wish, and I include myself, that we'd take more than a few steps backwards and ask ourselves exactly what's happening right now? It's like we've an uncharted map, and we're desperate for the wind to pick up even if we've no idea where we'll end up. Instead, shouldn't we think of mapping the map?

Thank you, and I mean that, for indulging me in writing these sometimes off-hand pieces. I will, hopefully, over the coming weeks either record a monologue to retrace my steps or write a longer piece to see if there are any nascent threads to bring together the idea of replacing one normal with another one — even if it's hard to see how Covid19 can be described in any sense of the word as normal.

Blessings,

Ju

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