Today we hear much about the “new normal” and the “old normal”. There has been so much noise about it that I’ve become a bit lost, so I decided to try to clarify the terms. That seems to have become a chore for fools.
Just what is the new normal? Well, that depends on who you ask. The opinions seem to range from we will always have some version of the current virus, so get used to it and load up on masks, to none of it matters because it is the beginning of the biblical end and we will all die anyway. There seems to be a single thread of commonality in the two extremes and all points in between.
Fear. Fear is the new normal. Now of course fear comes in many costumes. You have fear of something imminent like a speeding bus bearing down on you. Or, a lingering fear of spiders, or the dark, or lack of money. Today there is fear of going to any gathering like church, a birthday party, a wedding, a sporting event, or even a restaurant. There is fear that one will get the virus, or become ill from the vaccination being pushed.
These are fears that are new to us. But fear is fear no matter the subject or the costume. So, having defined the new normal to my satisfaction (even if to no one else’s) I turned my focus on what is the “old normal” that we all long for.
Clearly the old normal has no single definition beyond it is the way things used to be and not all old normals are even desirable.
Again, the answer depends on who you ask. The old normal isn’t the same for a couple that has dinner with friends on Friday night, takes the kids to their soccer game on Saturday, and sends them off to school on Monday, and heads to work as it is for a single mom, working two jobs and trying to make ends meet. The old normal is sometimes a man living in a tent under a bridge trying to find something to eat in a restaurant dumpster. Or, it could be a teacher or nurse whose job isn’t threatened because they won’t get a shot. Then there is the college student that under the old normal could really go to classes and be home with the family for the holidays. Clearly the old normal has no single definition beyond it is the way things used to be and not all old normals are even desirable. It seems that the old normal, while it probably had its own set of fears, they are different than (or in addition to) the fears of today.
That leads me to say that the commonality that transcends all opinions and thoughts about the new normal and the old normal is the fear factor. No one likes the fears of today or the unknown ones that may be just over the horizon. We are all more comfortable with the old fears. Those are like an old pair of patched jeans and we had learned to live with them. To put it another way, we could say that uncertainty and the unknown are unsettling and in themselves are a cause of fear.