Monday morning. 9:30 am. I was still in bed. I wasn’t sick, at least not physically. It wasn’t a Saturday. It wasn’t vacation. Just a normal day in the midst of a global pandemic. I had nowhere I needed to be. No appointment I needed to make. No reason, really, to get up, shower, shave, get dressed. I could do all that stuff, I reasoned, and still just sit on the couch or on the deck with my morning coffee and continue with my routine. Ha! That’s it! routine!
I started thinking about what makes an experience “normal?” It dawned on me that “routine” is an essential part of normalcy. I saw a story in the paper about a high school coach who still cuts the grass on the field because it gives him a sense of normalcy. If I do something enough times, I am not entirely conscious of doing it. Think about the first time you rode a bike, skated on the ice, got up on one water ski, learned to play an instrument, got the hang of typing…and so on. We spent a great deal of time focusing on the activity at hand. We concentrated on where our fingers where, what our legs were doing, how to put it all together. Over time, we developed a certain “muscle memory” about where to place our fingers or how to shift our balance and the activity required less focused concentration. It became more natural. We could do it almost without thinking. It was routine. Normal.
So, I was sitting on the deck on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The birds were singing their little lungs out. The trees were swaying in the wind, making that leafy-shuffling sound that I love. My family and I were laughing and talking, waiting for the coals to get hot so we could grill. We were doing these things almost without thought. It was a routine (and therefore normal) Sunday afternoon. Except for one thing.
Part of my routine, part of “normal” for me and for my family, is to hear a ball game on the radio in the background. It’s loud enough so that we can hear the banter of the announcers ever so lightly and still catch the part of a great play or scoring activity (based on the crowd noise). That sound is absent, of course, during the off-season but returns with great joy and fanfare (well, at least I mark the placement of the radio somewhere and “toast” its presence). That lazy, hazy afternoon sound has been a part of our family life for nearly fifty years! It’s gone now because of this global pandemic.
No games are being played. So, for me, it’s one more thing to grieve, even as a new “normal” settles into our lives. Normal is as normal does. I don’t have to like it. I can dream of past times or hope for ones in the future. Some of that old normal may return, even if it takes a while. Really. It’s okay. I’m not willing to risk lives just so I can hear the roar of a baseball crowd on my radio Sunday afternoon on my deck. In the meantime, we’ve got this. Atta boy! Atta girl!