Thank a lot

The title is as hard to process in your brain as it was for me to type. “Thank” needs an S happily attached to its back end, right? I knew this when deciding to write, but did it anyway because sometimes our gray matter needs a jolt away from normal. Happy to oblige.

Now that I have your undivided, the lot across the street from my everyday lunch spot has my attention. For some reason today, I’m fascinated by normal and nothing. Four days after a labor’s rest, I’m not ready to work – haven’t been for the past four days. Sitting on a worn metal chair, waiting for any customer to arrive, listening to the sizzle on a grill I’ve heard many times, and experiencing a soft September breeze over my well-rested shoulders make me appreciate nothingness more than ever – at least compared to life last week.

See, last week was normal. My day-in, day-out life stuffed into the 24/7 all of us get. No more, no less. Life was all about running around gathering supplies for my business and scratching out personal checks for closely due bills I knew were itching to be paid. Events to work, prep and clean-up, follow-up phone calls, … oh, an occasional shower to ward off the hygiene police … all in a normal week’s step-through.

All of us sled through our normals. We have to, right? The only other choice is not to … and I probably don’t know what that means. Living abnormally, I can only guess, is inside an avalanche of weird events – day after day – riding on a not-so flexible flyer of ideas. Well, by that definition, then, I DO know. It’s 2020 … 50-ish days before a Presidential election. “Probably” – the assigned adverb four crazy sentences ago – surprisingly just morphed into the phrase, “absolutely aware”. Imagine that?

Every month, since this pandemic arrived, we’ve been hit with some other weird, goofy, sideline snowballs. Let me summarize:

Murder hornets, Australian bushfires, Harry and Meghan quitting the Royals, a Presidential impeachment, China seeds, a Ukrainian flight crashing in Tehran, Iran, killing all 176 passengers on board, Kobe and Gigi Bryant losing their lives with 7 other precious souls in a helicopter crash, one week toilet paper panic buying, UK exiting from the EU, a massive solar flare, locusts in Africa, Weinstein, W.H.O., what’s, and where’s … the complete cancellation of April. aaaand this:

A warlock in a wheelchair riding by between the lot and I. Normal, right? Yes, for him.

He waved a very casual “hi” with his non-staff holding hand as a trusty metal steed carried him by my lazy, but well rested, observing self. There’s a goal in the mind of a man who wears a pointed black hat and – from what I could see – sports a twisted, shiny, lacy white beard. The cloak of visible mystery rivaling Harry Potter’s and a Marlin-esque ponytail dripping out from the back rim both speak of a story I have not lived, most assuredly. It is his story to tell … if only in his mind. It is his normal for this day and, quite possibly, every day he gently places himself into that saddle of satisfaction.

So, normal. Nothing is normal anymore. Or, maybe nothing in our lives’ was ever normal to begin with? What is normal to us isn’t considered normal to another person? It’s a lot to think about. Thinking about a lot – as I am doing right now. All of life’s stuff piled on our once empty fields where fertile ideas grew, dirt was free to get wet with the spring rains, and wild flowers took root here and there as they wished.

We forgot how to tend to our fields. This is the “larger than life lesson” I’ve noticed as an observer of life in others (and myself) during the 2020 year best described as what-the-hell-is-happening?.

When the all-things-normal door slammed shut this past March 13th, none of us knew what to expect going forward. Guidelines were sketchy at best and the near future at the time had a thick haze of uncertainty on the horizon. Normal was no more for 320 million Americans who didn’t know what an unattended field of ideas looked liked back then. Nothing, as a reality, seemed more real than a virus we knew little about except it came from a province in China.

Journeying forward, we’ve become accustomed to a new normal. “New normal” – a phrase my mom often said when torturing through chemo every day. As an expression of sufferance rather than satisfaction in the moment, these two words give some meaning to the material over our mouths and depth to the distancing. Some do not, some do. The most normal phenomenon throughout this whole pandemic, however, has been the predictable percentage of our population who, rightfully or wrongfully, head in the other direction.

It is not my position to judge. I simply stare across the street and think the bare spot looks a lot like Snoopy. That’s not normal. To me, though, a few minutes to sit here and watch a warlock, think about murder hornets, remember a few whacky-weird things, and write about life is something. Mostly, I have a lot to be thankful for. So do you. Find one somewhere, grab an uncomfortable metal chair, and take a seat. Nothing awaits you.

But, then again, we have 111 days left in 2020.

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