The Economist announced a few weeks ago: “Society will not be the same after lockdowns are lifted. China’s experience suggests that social lives will suffer even as work lives return to normal.”

“Normal?”

After I had a stroke and found out I had a heart defect a few years ago, my terrier-like brain was immediately looking for ways to get myself back to normal. I worked with a physical therapist and a yoga therapist to help me get things like my balance back. I did the New York Times daily crossword like religion. I did cardio exercise at the gym. I tried this medication and that. Still some things eluded me. “You’ll have to find your new normal,” my neurologist said of these lingering deficits. My new normal. My new normal. What?

We all go through this in bigger and smaller ways.

A new job. A new normal.

A divorce. A new normal.

Kids? Whoa! A new normal.

A pandemic?

It is difficult to write this blog on a weekly basis. One day an idea seems terribly apropos, and I begin plotting out my words and thinking of images to illustrate a post. The next week the article can seem tone deaf. Everything is changing rapidly, and we are beginning to see gradual shifts to a new—what?

I hope we will be able to look back and be glad we took the time to consider what we want our new normal to look like. That we accepted the help of literature, history, philosophy, geography, language, folklore, and other humanities areas—alongside science, religion, and the arts to let more than the end of our noses guide us into a new normal.

Your new normal. My new normal. Our new normal.

When I was a kid, my dentist jokingly advised me, “Only floss the ones that you want to keep.” The same could be said for our brains and our values. Our humanity.

The pandemic and pursuant stay-at-home orders have had some undeniably horrible results. Lives and livelihoods lost. These conditions have also given us an opportunity to do a little mental flossing to create a new normal that we want to keep.

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