How to get back to normal

The best way to get back to normal is to fully appreciate these two things:

  1. There is no normal
  2. There is no going back

The normality we might yearn for was a way of being that was built by two things:

  1. Habits: The things we do every day or at least every week, and because we do them as a matter of routine, and do them over a long time, they become habits. “You don’t decide your future. You decide your habits, and your habits decide your future.”
  2. Safety: When we look back, we see a false version of the past. Why? Because the past that we see, that was in some way a normality that we now crave, has only revealed itself as a cradle in hindsight. When we are in the moment, we are afflicted — whether we fully appreciate it or not — by the uncertainty of what comes next. That uncertainty poses some threat to our safety always. When we look back at some normality, because we are armed now with the knowledge of hindsight, we cannot imagine any of the low-hum anxieties that existed in our minds back then. And so we see a time when we were safe, and that safety is the normality we crave.

So if there’s no normal, and there’s no going back, what can we do?

Perhaps also, we do two things:

To be present with our present anxieties

We can try our best to appreciate that our innermost anxieties about what follows the present moment is never, ever going to go away. It will always be there, low-hum or full blast, in every present moment we ever experience, and since there’s no avoiding at (as avoiding it is to be irresponsible and therefore unsafe) the best we can do is to be at one with those anxieties. To appreciate them fully as an essential part of what it is to be human, moulded by a hundred thousand years of evolution, and to embrace this deep innermost part of who we are.

To strengthen ourselves against all that is to come

No matter what stage of life we are at, it is our opportunity and our responsibility to strengthen ourselves. To get stronger in mind and body and spirit. It is not about installing a home gym and pumping iron every day (although for some of us, that is a legitimate next step). It is about reflection. Reflecting each day and each week on the things about us that make us strong and the things about us that tend to weaken us. And then we can refine our strengths, and bring our weaknesses into the light where we can remove them or turn them into strengths.

There’s no going back to normal.

There’s only going forward, cresting the wave of the unstoppable passage of time, and making the best of whatever each moment gives us.

There’s only uncertainty, and uncertainty is normal.