After this week, I think I’m stuck in the doorway of “normal.”
Step on through and I’ll show you what I mean.
We began the week on the playing fields of Clark-Centennial Park where, after a long COVID-related hiatus, the Niwot Nightmares finally returned to the softball diamond. Long-time readers may remember that this is the home team for our own Missy, part of a “Softball For All” program for the disabled that warms the heart every summer …. along with warming everything else, given the Colorado heat.
It’s here. It’s familiar. It feels like it never went away.
And the end of the week? We spent that celebrating the high school graduation of my wife’s youngest sister, the one who used to come over for sleepovers when she was seven years old. Somehow, in the blink of an eye, we’ve moved from building marble runs and shooting self-produced living room videos to making plans for UNC and a possible future as a social studies teacher.
It’s here. It’s unfamiliar. It feels like everything is moving at high speed.
Uh … yay, normal?
Oh, and in the midst of all this, of course, there was a tornado that popped into the area with almost no warning, narrowly missed a major power station, brought some damage (though thankfully no deaths) and then nipped back off without so much as a “see ya.”
Uh … yay, normal.
And if that’s not the last few months in miniature, I don’t know what is.
Ever since March 2020, when everything got frozen in amber for several months, most of the attention has been focused on what we’ve missed, what we’ve lost, what we can’t wait to restore. We’ve talked about rebuilding normal like it’s a tornado-struck building, where we can unroll the blueprints, get the materials, maybe fix that carpet we’ve always been meaning to adjust and then pick up life where we left it.
The trouble is, of course, that normal is a moving target. Some of the familiar won’t come back. Some of the new won’t go away. And plenty of things will stay in motion and change, whether it’s as predictable as a girl growing up or as out of the blue and disruptive as a summer storm.
The fact is, we don’t know what “normal” is going to look like. Any of us. The outlines have started to form, some of the colors have been filling in, but the picture that will emerge and the reality we’ll have to fit into is still uncertain. And it’s not going to be wholly comfortable.
This isn’t the calm experience of walking out the front door. This is standing on the edge of the airlock, with scattered reports of the alien world beyond, but no firsthand experience. We can’t stay. But we’re not sure what we’re going to.
These are the moments of discovery. Of our world and ourselves.
A friend recently recommended a book to me about “liminal experiences,” the in-between moments when an old identity has been lost and a new one is still emerging. They’re not easy. They’re not comfortable. But they’re also unavoidable. And if we let them, they can be a special moment of transformation.
It requires trust and discernment and no small amount of courage. Walking in the dark – or at least in the fog – always does. But as unsettling as it is, we have to go on.
And when the new has fully emerged, we’ll be shocked at how quickly it becomes “normal.” It always does.
I’m glad for what’s returned. I’m curious for what will be. A season of discovery is ahead.
And while I’m waiting, I even get to watch a little softball.