Everything is normal, yet nothing is.
We get up in the same bed every morning, drink from the same coffee cup and stare blankly down at the bottom of the mug when we are finished, wishing there was more. Just as we have always done.
We start our day with some breakfast, maybe a nice run, shower and then we get dressed.
Or do we?
That's where things might start to take a bit of a different turn. Most of us are not leaving for work or class at this point, and we may even start to glance over at our cobweb-covered car and wonder if we will remember how to drive it when this is all over.
I've chuckled at myself a few times as I've sat down at my new "desk" (a.k.a., dining room table/conference room/counseling center/cafe) remembering all the times I had longed for a day to work from home and stay in my PJ's. Now that I got my wish, it feels more like a prison sentence than anything else. Funny how things can change so quickly.
As a hardcore introvert, I'm finding this new experience of missing people quite unsettling. It took me a good hour yesterday to pinpoint what exactly I was feeling, so strange and foreign were the emotions to me. The reality is, I was feeling alone, missing my friends immensely and experiencing what I am sure most of us are: fear of the unknown.
It is good for me to be reminded I am quite human indeed.
That last bit, the part about the unknown, that is the hardest for me. We can endure a lot if we know it is temporary and it is going to end, but when there is no end in sight it can start to feel unbearable.
But there is an end to this, even if I can't see it yet. He knew this was coming long before any of us were even born. He knew we'd all sit here in our toilet paper-packed houses, wringing our well-sanitized fingers preparing for the end of the world. He knew our loneliness, our fear, our grief.
He planned for it.
He knew cabin fever would grip us so hard that some of us would make some questionable choices to try and preserve our sanity.
It's okay. We are all there my friend.
Maybe the fact that He knew just evokes a level irritation for you. If He knew, why didn't He just prevent it in the first place? This is the age-old question we all ask at some point, perhaps many times in our lives. I have never found a great answer to it, but I sort of get the sense there is more going on than I can see in the realm of pain.
But there is something comforting to me in knowing this was never a surprise to Him, neither is how it ends. And it will end.
Our new “normal” isn't ever really going to feel “normal” I think, and that is okay. We would never want it to. We are experiencing something of an alternate universe, one that is the result of something gone quite wrong. It's not what it should be, it's not what it was, and it's not what it will be.
It’s just the “Now.” And the “Now” is so hard sometimes.
Embracing this strange new reality with the knowledge that it's not normal and I don't have to accept it as such is how I am surviving it.
My dining room table (and sometimes my bed) can be my desk for a little while. I can wear a button-up blouse with sweat pants during online meetings and classes, spend most of my day trying hard to stay on task while working alone and I can mute the microphone on my computer while I yell at my dog to get off the kitchen counter.
I can go to the store looking like an unkempt invalid with a pseudo hazmat suit, maneuvering carefully around while people eye each other like dangerous alien creatures from a deadly planet.
I can “hangout” with my friends through little squares on my screen and try to remember what it’s like to give high-fives and play spikeball in the sand at the beach.
Sure I can do all that, for a little while.
But it'll never be normal, and I find comfort in that. I can embrace this eerie weirdness for a little while, maybe I'll just pretend I'm in the twilight zone.
Eventually we will find our way back, my friends, and boy will we have a story to tell. I don't think I'll ever see work the same way, take my office for granted for a moment, or even that claustrophobic feeling you sometimes get in the middle of a crowded street when you just want to get to where you are going.
And maybe I'll come on the other side having learned something about myself. That I actually do need other humans in a deeper way than I thought I did. That I am not, in fact, the self-sustaining being I liked to think I was.
Perhaps the world too will get a glimpse of itself and its humanity in a way it hasn't before, perhaps in a way it needed.
Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash