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NORMAL DIED THIS YEAR

6 December, 2020

“Normal” died this year as a new reality shaped our lives. Covid_19 took away a lot of what we considered “normal” everyday life. Things like going to work, going on the bus, going to the movies, going to the beach, going for a walk, going on holiday, going to weddings, going to funerals, going anywhere. Things that were replaced with staying-at-home, working-from-home, staying in quarantine, locking down the hatches and doing whatever it takes to avoid unnecessary human contact and having fun. This, the so-called “new normal”.

Normal died on 11th March 2020

The word “normal” actually died on March 11, 2020, when the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic named COVID-19. I remember hearing it on the radio in a cab. I raised my hands to my head and muttered a quiet fuck. Shit had just gotten very serious, and life as we knew it was about to change dramatically and at great speed.

That evening I warned my housemates, who pretty much laughed me off as being a hysterical prophet of doom and gloom, and to lighten the fuck up. They changed their tune about a week later as the lockdown laws started spreading across the country on the daily news. “You mean, I can’t go to the Darlo with my mates on Friday night?” Exactly. “Normal” just died buddy, so start getting used to it. This, the so-called “new normal”.

Maybe normal was boring anyway

Maybe the old “normal” was boring anyway and in need of a good shake-up. I don’t see it that way. “Normal” is not the same as “average” or “boring”. It can be taken that way, just not this time. This time, “normal” is an illusion. What is “normal” for the spider is chaos for the fly. What was “normal” in 2019 is chaos in 2020. And what is “normal” in 2021 is anyone’s guess. At least we now get to appreciate the things we used to take for granted and smell the roses once again.

2020 was a year of change – from one “normal” to another – and the “change” word I reckon is key here. People don’t like change. People don’t leap out of bed in the morning shouting, “Fuck yeah, another day of change!” And when that change involves upending the everyday things that are our everyday lives – our routines, our patterns, our grooves, our habits, our expectations, our “normal” – it leaves us with a surreal, super-uneasy feeling.

There’s nothing normal about “normal”

If there is one lesson we have learnt in 2020, it’s that there is nothing normal about “normal”. Get used to expecting the unexpected. It’s a useful life skill in a world that’s changing at light speed. And if, perchance, you are in a rush to return to “normal”, remember to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.

And if there is a second lesson we have learnt from 2020, it’s that working through illness is not a badge of honour. If you’re sick, stay at home.

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