• Cynthia McCarthy

About the Return to Normal

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

There is a lot of talk these days about when life will return to normal and what that might look like. I get it; many of us are justifiably going stir crazy. I keep wondering though, to what, exactly, are we returning? What is “normal” anyway?

One of my favorite sayings is: “Normal is just a setting on a washing machine.” I love the analogy. Normal is just the way most of us used to do things—the way we lived our life pre-pandemic. Was it a great way of doing things? Maybe for some. Maybe not for all. Okay, maybe not for most. Choice is the key though—“normal” was our choice. If there’s one thing this pandemic has taught us, it’s that there are other ways of doing things. Who would’ve thunk?

Maybe normal was just what we all tolerated without realizing we were tolerating it. But now, thanks to the Covid-19 Corona Virus and the subsequent time of quarantined isolation, we’re faced with a new choice. A new beginning. An opportunity to start fresh and change our setting. To change the way we do things. That’s right, the dreaded C-word everybody loves to hate: CHANGE.

Have you ever really looked at the settings on your washing machine? I just went and looked at mine. There are four. Normal, (which I think I’ve decided I’m done with) Heavy, Casual, and Delicate. I am intrigued by these other options and how they might relate to how I will choose to live my life after the Corona Virus. Stick with me, here…

We’ll start with Heavy. On second thought, let’s not go there. And let’s definitely not talk about being quarantined with my seventeen year old daughter, a budding young baker who is well stocked with Costco-sized bags of flour and sugar. We’ve had chocolate chip cookies, coconut cream pie, chocolate eclairs, brownies, white chocolate cranberry cookies, lemon merengue pie, and on and on. Today, she's making cannoli! Yes, my post-pandemic life will be Heavy all right, but this is not the illustration I was going for. Moving on…

Let’s look at Casual. I suspect this would mean more than just continuing to work from the couch in yoga pants and forgetting to put on a bra most days. Living a casual life means being more relaxed, calm, and serene in my mind. I don’t know about you, but I could use more of that. My mind is where everything happens—my perceptions, my attitude, my outlook. I like the idea of not taking things so seriously, being more easy going. When we trust that life is good and that we are one with the Power and Presence of God, we are naturally going to be more calm and peaceful. There is no need to return to the rushing, and the “busy”-ness. Choosing a casual life means being carefree, not in the sense of not caring, but carefree in the sense of being free from worry, free from fear. Wrinkle-free, if you will. Casual life sounds perfectly delightful.

Then there’s the rarely selected Delicate setting. When you wash your delicates, the washing machine is careful and gentle with your clothes. Being careful and gentle with our future sounds like an intelligent decision to me. It’s a choice to make, not from a place of fear, but from a place of positive proactivity. This pandemic has taught us to be conscientious and careful about our health with things like hand washing, hygiene, and the responsible care and protection of the elderly and immunocompromised. These are habits that can easily become part of our post-pandemic life. They don’t have to be viewed as restricting, limiting, and burdensome. Let’s be delicate with ourselves and others, for life after lock down will require some patience. Let’s be cautious with our thoughts and beliefs, reluctant to give in to fear mongering and hype. Let’s be sensitive to other’s needs, while remembering to be gentle with ourselves.

The delicate setting is a nice place to realize our Oneness. And speaking of Oneness, we’ve all seen how the earth thrives when the humans shelter in place. Let’s be gentle with our Mother Earth. It deserves some delicate treatment. Delicate life sounds amazing. We have options! We have settings other than "Normal."

One other thing… Have you noticed how creative we’ve gotten during this pandemic—all of us working from home, sheltering in place, solving our problems in new ways? (I mean, for heaven’s sake, Saturday Night Live figured out how to present entire hilarious episodes with cast, crew, and musicians all quarantined in their respective homes. Problems are getting solved!) Don’t you wonder how outside-the-box our new life can potentially be, on whatever new setting we choose?

I find myself asking all kinds of questions about the future. Things like: What would happen if we just continued working from home? Why can’t we always limit our shopping trips to only when necessary? What if our educational system continued to be flexible and effective with online distance learning? Why can’t we appropriately compensate our most important supply chain workers? Can we actually make decisions that are in the best interest of humanity, of All-Life? Is withdrawing from the world now and then beneficial to everyone’s health and well-being, including planet Earth?

I could go on and on, but I won’t. There is a lot for all of us to think about in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, go check out your washing machine for inspiration. I’m not that eager to return to normal just yet.


Rev Cynthia

P.S. While my day job is considered an essential industry, I'm very fortunate to be able to work from home during this time. My heartfelt gratitude to all those who are out doing essential work that serves the world!

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