There have been recent conversations about how we will not be able to go back to what we knew to be normal before this pandemic. At the same time, many cries are for progress that takes us beyond our past experience of normal. Our striving is to evolve and to express greater love and goodness and to reach a higher standard. Whether or not we are conscious of it, regardless of how we may behave, I believe it is a part of our nature to do so. Besides, the past is over. It is gone and it’s a mistake to try to recapture it.
I just listened to a few minutes of Michelle Obama’s film, “Becoming”, which is now available on Netflix. While at a community event with young people, she is asked about getting back on track to her normal life after being First Lady. Her response: “Get back on what track? It’s a whole new track. It’s not going back. It’s just all different and it’s different forever.” She then adds, “So it’s not getting back on track. It’s creating my next track.”, Obama concludes that she is now in the same process as her young guests, which is figuring out what she wants to do and what she cares about. Many of us agree.
I’ve been pondering on the notion of normal. To me, normal is often a harmful concept. When in our lives we deviate from the norm, it is too often a foundation for shame and judgment for both the individual and the family. Examples? A person born deaf or blind, or with an ill-formed part of the body, with damage to or loss of a body part due to any variety of causes. In the past, perhaps still, interracial and interclass relationships, the LGBTQ community, people with learning differences, or those with unique facial or body features. I’ d like to think without some standard of normal, we might more easily live and share in community together.
Honestly, I’ve come to think of normal as a bothersome concept in many respects. First of all, it forces us to look to our past to even define the word. Looking back can keep us bound to events we have not processed or forgiven in our own thinking. What a tragedy, given that our freedom is in our ability to live in the present. The cause of any defensiveness, judgment and unloving behavior toward ourselves and others is because we still look back and allow our minds to be preoccupied with past thoughts. These thoughts insist someone did us wrong, we did someone or something wrong, we didn’t help when we could have, and all the negative underlying and resultant beliefs that limit and cause harm. For sure, regret and grievances only cause pain.
Letting go of the past and all our concepts of normal leaves us open and shinning in our innocence. What if we rather accepted that in every moment our past is forgiven and that the slate is washed clean? That with each breath we may start anew, with all possibility and every gift of God before us. Divine love claims this for us. Only because we cling to some aspect of the past do we prevent our ability to live in the joyous present. Why? Because we keep writing our past story on that clean slate rather than creating our next track.
It’s certain that if we are looking back, we cannot see a future. We might ask ourselves personally and collectively, “What do I believe to be the highest outcome possible?” “How do we want to live?” And then, set our goals on this.