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Can We Really Go Back to Normal?



Today, I would like to share one of the many random thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head. Because of the pandemic, this past year has been like no other in contemporary history. To some people, the year has been super-compressed and has gone by in warp speed. To others, it has felt as if it has gone on forever. In either case, there is a common question, or some variation of this inquiry, "When will we go back to normal?" And I’ve been wondering, is going back to "normal" even possible?


I remember when I took a plane to Boston to visit my mother after not flying there for quite some time. I noticed what I didn’t see anymore - a line of Yellow Cabs to take people from the airport to their destination. For many years, that was normal, until the ride-sharing industry dominated by Uber and Lyft came along. Some of you may recall the days when public payphones and phone booths seemed to be everywhere. That was normal until they seemed to vanish with the advent of cell phones. Years ago, my son Jaelan was walking through the office building where I worked and saw an IBM Selectric Typewriter. The IBM machine was sitting unused and unnoticed in the corner on a shelf, and Jaelan asked, “Is that what people call a typewriter?”


The transitions from cabs to Ubers, phone booths to cell phones, and typewriters to computers represent paradigm shifts. They symbolize a move onward with little or no chance of going back to "normal." Now to be clear, taxis are still around, some public payphones exist, electric typewriters are still being used (somewhere). But the notion that they will be the norm again is pretty much nil.

This past year, we have seen a paradigm shift in our world. Adjustments took place in work, travel, and how we socially interact. As the pandemic hopefully comes to an end, things will be different. But will they go back to normal? Probably not.


Businesses, organizations, and educational institutions have caused Zoom use to increase to an incredible level. Churches have leveraged the internet to get their message out to existing and new followers. Restaurants have doubled down home deliveries. Online buying has skyrocketed to an all-time high. There is probably no going back … at least to where things had been.

Going back suggests going backward. Yet, we know the nature of the Universe is one of expansion, growth, and forward movement. Normal is what we took for granted and did not notice while it was happening. Until it changed. When the change occurs, what we ignored and took for granted, suddenly becomes quite noticeable once we stop and observe.


Friends and members of spiritual communities, like Spiritual Life Center, look forward to going back to normal. Somethings will look the same, but what was once routine will not likely be anymore. No one precisely knows what the future holds. But just as the Universe is forever expanding into new territory, I suspect we will do likewise.


That’s what I’ve been musing over lately. Let me know what you think.


Peace and Blessings,

James

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