What Is “Normal” and Why “Get Back to It”
Some musings post Irma. This rambles a bit. It has no particular structure, or conclusion, or even a point, i guess. Fortunately, it’s not too long.
I wake up every day and remind myself (yes i do this every single morning) that everything changes, there is no permanence, and thinking I am in control, even temporarily, is an illusion. It’s all an illusion. And i’m fine with it.
Then like everyone else, I get busy and start to work the day. There are things i want to do. I have lists. I have lists *of* lists (a whole separate story.) Throughout the day i remind myself to pause, to wake back up, regain the present moment; to be conscious.
What am i aiming for? Striving to achieve? What am i reaching for? What are my goals? I ask this because i just reminded myself of the immutable truth of impermanence. So why am i grasping at all?
Is it to be “better”? Have “more”? Or just keep the ships of life, marriage, families, friends upright? i wrestle with this nonsense constantly.
Then stuff happens. Irma. In my little corner of the evacuation, really nothing actually went wrong and we didn’t do without. I had time, and I started to think - and no these are not my original thoughts - they’ve been going on for thousands of years by smarter and more enlightened people than me. I am sure they have satisfactory answers, even hard conclusions about this stuff. I have no idea what they might be. I arrived here on my own and have to figure which way to go and what im trying to find. Or rid myself of. It’s the immediacy of having these thoughts last week that brought this on.
We come home and see we mostly dodged a bullet. Immediately we make new lists - clean this, chop that up, toss that, take that stuff out of storage, and put it back where it was. Now you’ve got to repair this, fix that. Maybe it’s time to tackle….no that’s a different list. Call the insurance, the roofer, plumber.
Everyone asks are you / are things “back to normal?” And i must have started to think about it literally. What am i trying to get “back” to? Recover exactly from?
ETA: One person specifically made reference to “putting humpty dumpty back together again”. I’m sure that’s what got me thinking. You put him back together there’s all those cracks…and why was he the ideal to return to?
Sure sometimes it’s obvious. Safety. A roof, shelter, a whole house. Food, because no power and it all went bad. Or food! Because you dont know where your next meal is coming from. Clothing and “stuff” if you lost it.
What is the sort of standard, the minimal where we were or where we need to be to say we’re done, we got here; we’re “back”. Does it all have to be as it was? Can i decide not to replant this, or fix that chair, rebuild whatever?
Or why even try? Why was the way things were, before this re-awakening, the correct way? This new way isnt going to be permanent either. Another illusion i just happen to be in the middle of right now.
I think about what is important. What do I need. What is necessary. Of course what i need, what’s essential to me will be different for you, and everyone else. And even that changes over time.
Start with basic clothing, basic shelter, basic utensils, basic tools, and the most basic (proper) food. I like to think i live simply, comfortably, of a fashion. It could be simpler of course because there is so much in our lives that isn’t “necessary”. And i do sort of review it regularly. if something isnt used or vital i can probably survive just fine without it around.
ETA: In addition to all this talk about essentials and other material stuff, there’s also the “routine”. Getting back to the normal way of things. We all have routines. They give us predictability and comfort through the virtue of repetition. I didn’t even think of this when writing the first draft.
And it may be easier to understand because there is true value in regaining that daily flow of “mastering the twenty-four hours”. The things that are done each and every day to keep the self, family, business functioning. This list of tasks is far more vital than “stuff. Carefully managed, it IS the path.
Why was yesterday “normal”? Why is that the ideal to get back to? (i mean if it was your ideal).
Was there enough contemporaneous introspection going on at the time that i actively settled on that amount of food clothing shelter, things, stuff, etc? Or did i just drift around and end up there blindly?
i like to think i was conscious and arrived there fully responsible for where i landed. And yet the day after our mere “inconvenience” the perspective of looking back on “normal” feels like a much too complicated and meager house of cards. that maybe doesnt need to be rebuilt or reconditioned exactly. Maybe not even close.
ETA: Periodically, take some time and evalute the “things”. What’s necessary, what’s critical, what’s not. And why. Take more time and regularly evaluate the day. What good actions do I need to do regularly? What good shall I do this day? (B. Franklin)
Then smile, breathe and go slowly as you do as much justice to the miraculous gift of your existence as you are able.
This weekend in the midst of raking, mowing, organizing, checking off anyway, i’ll be making VB’s apple strudel. I have a feeling there may be some answers in there.