I see a phenomenon burgeoning. I watch it with endless curiosity and morbid fascination. It has to do with the coronavirus-induced notion that there will be a new normal … unless there won’t be.
The people who participate in this phenomenon seem to fall into one of three camps. They seem to do so in equal numbers. And oddly enough, the memberships of Camps One and Two consist of optimists.
Camp One comprises the people who think the new normal will be the same as the old normal. Clocks and calendars stopped at Point A. They will start again at Point B. When they do, we’ll all pick up where we left off as if nothing of consequence transpired between Points A and B. Everything will be the same. Everything will look the same. All conditions will be the same. Everyone will act that same. The coronavirus will have been nothing more than a chronological hiccup, the proverbial wrinkle in time.
Camp Two comprises the people who think the new normal will be nothing like the old normal. Clocks and calendars didn’t stop at all. Rather, the hands of the clock turned in new directions. And the pages of the calendar will flip to reveal possibilities of awe and wonder. Nothing will be the same. Nothing will look the same. All conditions will be different. Everyone — all of us who’ve been busily about re-imagining and re-inventing ourselves — will think and act differently. The coronavirus will have been nothing less than a cosmic miracle, leaving all of us joyfully renewed and boundlessly rewarded.
Camp Three doesn’t exist yet. But it will. When the members of Camp One and Camp Two find out they weren’t precisely or wholly correct, they’ll end up here. At that point, Camp Three will be the biggest camp, comprising, as it will, all the former members of Camps One and Two.
Until all of this shakes out, the best thing you can do is pace yourself.
And lower your expectations.