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Geri Lennon: No going back to normal

I wonder what would happen if we gave up the trite phrase “new normal”?

Why do we hold on so tenaciously to normal? Frankly, I’ve never been considered “normal” and I finally got comfortable with being called unique, unusual and even rare. I welcome rare.

I just don’t get the call of the common, the routine or the repetitive. Don’t get me wrong. A lot of people truly love doing things over and over and over as if life were like an aerobic routine or some sort of badge of courage. But then a virus tsunami of change on every level appeared.



We whine, we cry, we chant: When can we get back to normal?

Last year, I watched the rivulets turn into waves and then suddenly wow, a pandemic. No one had ever experienced a pandemic, at least in this lifetime in the USA and that immediately qualified for not normal.




But what if? What if everyone recognized that fact and decided to row in one direction, to listen to bonafide advice and follow instructions? Of course, our modus operandi as Americans is to be feisty.

After all, we are. Don’t take our freedom away. Don’t ask us to be careful and wear masks and maintain a safe distance. That’s not normal. By the way, when can we get back to normal?

So politics aside, he said, she said, YouTube said, CNN said, WHO said, the White House said, while the restless and the spoiled chanted: When do we get back to normal?

I have a trite suggestion that will likely be ignored as nonsense and radical. Ditch normal. Ditch new normal. Put on the brakes of quick escape from this apparent status quo.

Decide to do whatever it takes to make the virus go away. If that involves a new normal, could it be a calculated rest stop for everyone? Silence with the media. Lots more help-out checks and unemployment from a government budget now strained.

There are billions of dollars, now climbing to trillions, to spend on fixing what can’t be fixed without universal cooperation. Let’s get back to a feisty population that went to its knees while calling to their elders feebly waving from a distant window, not holding a grandma’s hand as she passed, and all the sadness we have endured.

If you haven’t lost at least one person you knew, you may have loved, but lost, you are in a rare percentage. If you didn’t lose a lot of money, you are definitely in the guarded percentage that gained.

Some people who did survive the COVID-19 onslaught became “long haulers” and struggle to return to the elusive normal. Organ damage never follows a path of normal, new or old.

Yikes, this is beginning to sound depressing and dreary, so let’s turn on the latest episode of “The Bachelor” and try to forget for a few minutes the mess we are in. After all, we need to get vaccinated and then we can party on, y’know, get back to normal.

Did we learn nothing? From loss and sorrow and sheer shock? A five minute bow-your-head session for 3 million deceased worldwide, 600,000 in our country, doesn’t cut it.

If we really want this virus to stop teaching us more lessons, then let’s become A students. Let’s do what has to be done … no matter what.

Sure, decide on the vaccine, but ask questions and get informed. Be aware that it isn’t a fix-it job. Research is still out. Vaccines may protect better with some variants but maybe not others. Who knows how long they will last?

So the rush to be free to settle into a new normal, which includes lots of celebration, is insane right now. Until the numbers skyrocket down, it’s literally a semester of homework and safe behavior away.

Everyone needs to cooperate. Oh, good luck with that. When have we all agreed on anything? After all, that’s what liberty is all about, a nation of free thinkers and doers and trail blazers? How about a nation unified?

Viruses love dissonance. That’s an open door to more reprisals. That’s why Ebola is so successful. Guards are lowered, people forget, all in the sacred commitment to return to normal.

The virus is still at the chalkboard, prattling on. Bored students will likely not listen. The rush to freedom is just too strong. But if just this once, a miracle occurred, buy-in became like the onslaught of kids collecting for the March of Dimes when polio paralyzed so many, it could save lots more lives than any vaccine.

Freedom from a virus still stalking innocents requires a warfare tactic all its own. Go back into the trenches and wait for time to blow the whistle forward.

Geri Lennon of Alta is from Nevada City.


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