What is ‘normal’ these days?

Published 4:00 pm Friday, January 14, 2022

People say, “I’ll be so glad when this pandemic goes away and things return to normal.” Well – I’ve thought about that and in many ways this feels “normal” to me – just a change!  So looked up the word “normal” in the Cambridge Dictionary: “Ordinary or usual; the same as would be expected.” And “change:” “To make or become different.

However, these simple definitions open up enough variables for a doctoral dissertation!  What’s normal in your life could really be weird for me or unimaginably awesome …and my normal would probably drive you to drinking!  What changes individual lives, of course, depends on what’s “ordinary” to each.  Stay tuned, something un-ordinary is stirring in me….

Sun rising, setting, seasons, hero mom “Gert’s” unconditional love, son Stephen, sister Mary Ann always there for me, bills, constant car and other project issues, stuff wearing out in house and on me, mowing the yard this spring/summer, that cat Jag who adopted me still hanging around for some reason, daily Mass, are ordinary and expected – however, only one thing in my life is truly constant: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Heb 13:8). 

The way I normally worship our Lord, i.e., Mass at St. John’s Catholic Church might change, like when our Bishop closed the church on March 18, 2020 because of Covid and punched my “normal” daily Mass in the gut – to this day the most dramatic pandemic incident for me thus far! Thankfully, Fr. Joe immediately began streaming daily Mass on Facebook, not the same, but worked – and we eventually returned to…ordinary. 

Normal to me is buying a 1964 Land Rover in August 2014 from a snake oil dealer in Birmingham, as a “rolling restoration,” clutch went out driving off the trailer, been working on it ever since – fix one thing, another pops up…then another…and another…but also normal for me is my stubborn German persistence that has served me well throughout my life, along with my gifted problem solving skills and mechanical genes – I will fix all and drive it…so close! 

Signs of spring are emerging – the Ole Miss Spring semester begins this Tuesday – welcome back, y’all! As a “professional” student (Ph.D., MA, MAT, BS) the spring semester was always my favorite because days lengthened, warmed, stuff began blooming, and no matter how stressed I was, these were “healing” wonderful days.  Although our beautiful Oxford and University of Mississippi is the same, doing business here has changed (masks etc), and our swell Ole Miss Students, faculty, staff had to adapt and change to a diverse way of doing things – Well done all!

On a sunny 60 degree day this past Wednesday, suddenly noticed that the Lilies I plant every year in front of the Blessed Virgin Mary statue by my driveway from St. John’s altar at Easter, were several inches above the tundra, new leaves were sprouting on my rose bushes, etc, nonetheless, I am way on guard because last February 14th, Fr. Joe canceled Sunday Mass because of freezing rain – then it snowed several inches and I was “trapped” in my house for eight bloomin’ days because of steep street and driveway for the first time being in Oxford for 33 years! And oh, there was that February Ice Storm of 1994…yeah, I was here!

And now with rain/snow forecast for tonight and snow almost certain for tomorrow (deep breath) – suppose that should feel normal as well because it is winter, but being 60 degrees a few days ago, that is a huge change and c’mon, this is Oxford and the south!  Whew – got to get my four-wheel-drive Land Rover up and driving!!

Gert told me once…actually several times, “Your life is like a soap opera and I’m going to stick around to see how it turns out.” Ha!  She almost made it – died at age 95 a few days after her February 6, 2008 birthday and my life remains mysterious, uncertain, thus normal and fantastic – a tapestry (Carole King) being woven by God, perfectly normal and swell for me!  Plus – I’m at peace…what’s that worth?

I’ve had a wonderful, eclectic career, punctuated by my Ph.D. from Ole Miss and working on Campus for 15 years (miss our awesome students), loving retirement, jotting down these “ramblings” many years for our Oxford Eagle, have a few awesome constantly trustworthy friends, very precious mentors, and as a huge introvert, I’m built for this pandemic – love social distancing, don’t go out anyway, so…it all sucks, but okay for me.  

My life is a constant work in progress, ever changing as it should be, never, “normal” which feels quite normal, ordinary to me, and wonderful!  Thank you God!  Be safe, be well, and “Normal” Out!

 

Steve Stricker is an Oxford resident and received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss.  He can be reached at sstricke@olemiss.edu