New Normal – New Narrative – New Focus

We hear the words “new normal”. They are spoken by the news, friends, the religious, family, communities and neighborhoods triggering new anxieties. However, rather than passively hearing, let’s take a minute to look a little deeper than buzz word depth. Normal brings about ideas of order, typical, traditional and sane. Those words hardly describe our current climate. Chaos, disarray and discord describe it more accurately. In other words the “new normal” isn’t a form of any normal. A better label would be “new narrative”. Not the narrative we digest in media, but a narrative of response. We are being told how to feel, how to react, what to say, where to go and the reasons why I should or shouldn’t. Sides tell us to join or die, us or them. We’re told who is safe and who is dangerous. Someone else is giving us our conclusions. This list could go on and on, but the good news is I can manage narratives. I can’t push back on normal. Normal is vague and undefined. Narrative has a story line and direction. “New normal” can scare us but a “new narrative” can change us. Gauging narrative will become a new skill we develop soon for sanity sake. Here are some truths that help us not get lost in the “new narrative”.

  • My response is mine. We can’t control what happens or doesn’t happen but everybody will not decide for me how I will act or see things. I can control my response. Others can tell you what to do but I can still say, no. When I say yes or agree, I am simply buying into what’s requested. When I say no, I have the freedom to decide for myself. An individual making a decision is almost a rebellion nowadays. Maybe we shouldn’t default to yes when narratives come.
  • Today matters. I can shut off all media and voices, I can turn off the noise and I can do something meaningful. Great or small, actions change the future. We are restricted in our days but that doesn’t mean we cannot connect with another human in a powerful way. We have forgotten to be human these days, today is crucial for us and others.
  • Keeping hope. Everyone believes in something or someone. For some it’s clearly themselves or even worse an Instagram “star”. Can we afford to put our outlook and hope in the hands of celebrities and media? Either it’s vague advice from image crafting moguls or infotainment wars between networks. The sky is falling or a hashtag from a remote resort leaves us defeated. Doom scrolling can leave you hopeless. Yet, I look at several things in my life. One, America’s ability to withstand the hardest times in history. Two, my house can be a house of hope. Three, my faith isn’t in myself or others but in Christ. No one has permission to rewrite our narrative.
  • Doing good things. The world may be falling apart but I don’t have to cancel good works. Most neighborhoods have a Facebook page, go help out or send a card or care package. Something as simple as a kind note left in a mail box. Make a phone call and say, “I miss you” or “I’m proud of you” maybe even, “I love you”. Good can still happen in a world of hurt.
  • Attitude is up to me. The world may keep saying doomsday but my outlook and attitude is not up for renegotiation. Even if everybody else at work is a critic that doesn’t mean I have to join them. I can find pleasure in simple things. When the world seems on fire; music, old movies, friends, cooking and playing with kids can give us good perspective again. Light doesn’t give darkness a choice. If you want to be light today, nothing can stop you.

Maybe we need a new buzz word between us, let’s go for “new focus”. We have the ability to recover, return and thrive in our environments. What you do still matters and you still can make a difference. Use these days to grow not grumble.