Who Needs Normal?

There I was, seated in the back seat of our vehicle. The back seat for me is not normal. Why the heck would we be listening to Disney Radio… they can call it Disney Radio – it’s more like “We can bludgeon your ears and sensibilities with preteen pop stars… but we decided to call it ‘Disney Radio’ instead…” Disney Radio was not my normal choice of stations to listen to. I was coming off a busy day at work, the building was nearly empty, and another thing not normal for a Thursday in October, but the kids have a few days off of school, so I had lined up a couple of projects to be done in the building to take advantage of the empty building.

The two projects were progressing, and I was glad to be able to get those items checked off the list. They weren’t done yet, later in the day when I had to leave… and it’s not normal for me to leave with contractors still in the building working. Our maintenance guy was still around, so he is more than capable to look after things when I am not around.

Things not being normal is pretty normal for 2020. I don’t know if I would even recognize normal anymore.

I hate thinking or talking about normal. It’s not normal for me to obsess about whether things are normal or not, but this is 2020. If they, whoever “they” are, are even thinking about making a template for anything as far as future years… well, you can expect a strongly worded missive from me. That will learn them, for sure.  It’s not been normal for me to write to the local newspaper for four or five years now, and normal situations may elicit normal reactions, but we are nowhere near normal right now.

Does it even matter that we have no idea of what normal looks like if it ever descends upon us again? We will have some semblance of what normal was, by how many references to, and longing for, the “good old days when…” happens. I can’t wait to say “I remember when I would be able to flip my mask off and take a deep breath like I was coming up from being underwater for way too long.” Having asthma in the days of COVID makes mask wearing a real pain in the hindquarters… but I’d rather be out of breath than get mask shamed by someone crusading for maskers. It’s ok, I will survive… it’s not normal for me to complain so I won’t.

This election season is not a normal one either. My current status is that I am not weathering it as I normally do. I love the horse race elements to an election, I love the analysis (note the first four letters of analysis, it might give you an insight as to why I over combobulate on such a thing…) and of course, there are the historical implications. But this election, so fraught with importance and such a vital piece in our overall future as a republic… it’s to the point that I can’t even enjoy my normal enjoyment of it, much less my own political preferences. That’s really not normal for me.

I have a litany of what’s not normal in this election and even what’s less normal in my reaction to all of it. Suffice to say that at some point I may need to dive into my own take on the election, but see – that wouldn’t be normal. I am wholeheartedly trying not to say anything, on social media, about politics. That wouldn’t be normal, as it’s too easily divisive and way too easy to turn off people with who you might otherwise be able to interact with. Another time. Definitely maybe on that…

Allow me to circle back. I can deal with all of this being not normal. Normal doesn’t exist in a time or space, I look at normal as the sum total of a bunch of experiences, and normal was the average of those, instead of one slice of that as being illustrative of the whole collection. It doesn’t matter what our normals are, it does matter that we allow ourselves to feel what we are and to be what and where we are. I refuse to be a slave to what normal is and what normal was or what we feel it ought to be.

You see, sitting in the back seat of the car, it’s neither good nor bad. Disney Radio serves its purpose too. Being removed from our workday after it’s over, is a good thing, I think. All those things come together to make something else happen. I am in the backseat listening to Disney Radio after work yesterday because we have important cargo on board. You see, I have a nearly four-month-old hand, holding onto mine, and it kind of blows up the need for anything normal. For the duration of the ride, that hand holding mine is all that I need anything to be.

Naomi’s hand, holding mine. Naomi is our first grandchild, who will turn 4 months old on Election Day.


Tom Dietzler
Tom Dietzler
Lifelong, proud somewhat strident Wisconsinite, I love my state and love to sing its praises. A bon vivant and raconteur, lover of history, literature and good conversations. Laughter and music are salves that I frequently am applying to my soul. I have spent time (too much) in manufacturing and printing and have found great joy in my current position as director of operations at a large church in the same area where I grew up. Husband to Rhonda and father of two adult children Melanie and Zack, I’m the constant companion of my five-year-old Lab, Oliver, who is my muse to a lot of my stories. I’m a fan of deep conversation and my interests are in learning and gaining wisdom, so in the last few years I have become and less politically vocal, and hopefully more respectful and open-minded. Rhonda and I sold our home in 2018, bought a condo and have traveled a bit more, golfed a bit more and are enjoying life a bit more. If you take the time to get to know me, prepare yourself for an invite to the 30th state to join the union, a gem located in the upper Midwest, full of beautiful scenery formed by the glaciers, with lots of lakes and trees and gorgeous scenery, and the nicest people that you’d ever want to meet.

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  1. Thank you for this wonderful reminder that there has not ever been “normal” in my life-so I just dismissed the word and began leaning into “healthy”-Asking myself what was actually healthy for me-dark chocolate or filtered water? until I realized I could stop bifurcating life into an either/or but rather reframe into a both/and/allofit-the messy, the beautiful, the unexpected, and adapt, flow, pivot accordingly. I love how you landed in the moment of a your four month old granddaughter holding onto your hand. All of life is impermanent-might as well savor the moments that make you grateful you are alive on this big blue planet swirling through space-and likely that can include all the amazing “not ever normal” moments and experiences we have of life, people, places, things, nature…. So much we “make up” in our minds that have little relationship to being present to life…

  2. Exactly, Tom, why does “normal” matter so much, and what makes us slaves to it? I’ve heard about “the good old days”, but for the life of me cannot remember any time in my past that was significantly better than where I am right now… ever.

    Thanks for sharing that moment with us, and the image of that tiny, precious hand.

    • Normal is a myth of some time, other than this one, where things were better, or more stable, or made more sense. It was never a single moment in time, it’s a blending and blurring of so many things… we can become what we chase. Sarah, we only need what’s right in front of us. Thank you for chiming in, I always appreciate your support and input.

  3. Oh, wow…. What a great perspective to share today, Tom! I love this for so many reasons, but not the least of which is to say that normal is often so overrated!! Our world has definitely changed this year. It’s up to us to find meaning in where we are right at the present moment. This: “It doesn’t matter what our normals are, it does matter that we allow ourselves to feel what we are and to be what and where we are. I refuse to be a slave to what normal is and what normal was or what we feel it ought to be.”
    Thank you!

    • Normal is overrated, without question. No one can even figure out where it is, and we so often miss today or what’s important by wishing and hoping on something that isn’t even a “thing.” Thank you for your perspective, I am so glad that it resonated with you.